STUART Fleetwood is aiming for his third promotion in the next few weeks – but his first as a champion.
The Eastleigh striker has helped the Spitfires into a position where the destiny of the Conference South title is very much in their own hands, writes PAUL McNAMARA.
Tuesday’s home win over Chelmsford, coupled with leaders Bromley’s 4-0 home thrashing by Dover, has left Eastleigh two points behind the table toppers with two games in hand.
“It’s still in our hands,” said Fleetwood ahead of tomorrow’s home game with Bishop’s Stortford. “If, at the start of the season, somebody had offered us that we would have taken it. “I’d definitely prefer to be in our position rather than Bromley’s. “They’ve been at the top of the table for so long, with such a big gap. “Everyone was expecting them to win it, and the pressure’s just starting to show on them a little bit now. “I’m happy with where we are and hopefully our experience will tell at the end of the season.” Less than a month ago, Bromley held an 11-point gap over early-season leaders Eastleigh but the Kent side have now lost their last three league games. That has rejuvenated Eastleigh’s own title chances and with it the sole automatic promotion spot to the elite league of English non league football.
Fleetwood has twice won promotion before, but never as a champion – and never after spending the whole season at the club.
He was on loan from Cardiff when Hereford United won the Conference Premier play-off final in 2006, while he was on loan to Exeter from Charlton when the Grecians finished runners-up in League 2 three years later.
“Eastleigh is a big club – we’ve got a lot of pressure on us and everybody is expecting us to go up,” Fleetwood declared. l Read a big interview with Fleetwood in this weekend’s Sports Pink.