Skrill South champions Eastleigh continued a torrid run of results at West Leigh Park as they were beaten by play-off contenders Havant & Waterlooville 1-0 yesterday.
The only goal came from Nic Ciardini, his gloriously struck free-kick after ten minutes lifting the Hawks into the top five.
In nine league attempts Eastleigh have won just once at Havant and that continued as they slumped to a first league defeat since March 8.
Richard Hill made three changes to the side that won the championship on Good Friday with a 2-1 win over Basingstoke Town.
The Spitfires boss gave three youth players – Jamie Bullpitt, Jack Smith and ‘keeper Lewis Noice – their debuts in place of the rested Dan Spence, first-choice stopper Ross Flitney and Chris Todd.
Captain Glen Southam was utilised in an unfamiliar right back role with Bullpitt playing in midfield. With everything to play for, Hawks fielded their strongest XI and it paid off as they now only need four points from two games to secure a play-off berth.
Eastleigh’s efforts were few and far between, Ben Strevens chesting the visitors’ best chance against a post. Eastleigh were better after the restart but the nearest they came was when Alfreton loanee Daniel Wishart struck a low drive that Cherries loanee keeper Benji Buchel saw go just wide.
Havant’s two remaining games are Maidenhead at home on Wednesday and relegated Tonbridge away next Saturday.
Craig Dundas scored the only goal in the second half as ex-Eastleigh boss Paul Doswell’s Sutton beat Concord 1-0 to remain in second place in the Conference South.