Eastleigh 1 Chesterfield 1.

HONOURS ended even between Eastleigh managers old and new at the Silverlake Stadium this afternoon.

A 1-1 draw with Chesterfield made it just one defeat in 12 National League games for Eastleigh who took the lead with a 12th-minute Alex Wynter header.

But they were made to fight every inch of the way by Martin Allen’s Chesterfield, who levelled through debutant Jordan Hallam shortly before the interval and, like Eastleigh, hit the woodwork in a breathless tit-for-tat finale.

There was a flashpoint in the opening seconds of the game when Eastleigh skipper Danny Hollands made a mis-timed challenge on Chesterfield’s new loanee striker Jordan Hallam in the visitors’ left-back position, sparking outrage among the men in orange and black.

Fortunately the ex-AFC Bournemouth man escaped with just a lecture from referee Carl Brook.

Allen’s response was a McEnroe-esque “You can’t be serious!, triggering jeers from the Eastleigh fans towards the Spireites boss who spent just 84 days in charge of the Spitfires during a turbulent 2016/17 campaign.

There was no sympathy from the home crowd either when Chesterfield's Jerome Binnom-Williams went down clutching his face after a coming-together with Paul McCallum, but the Spitfires ploughed on regardless to force a corner from the right.

What followed was a training ground-inspired master class from the team in blue.

Set-piece maestro Mark Yeates delivered, Ben Williamson deftly flicked it on at the near post and centre-back ALEX WYNTER met it with a flying back-post header to earn Eastleigh a 12th-minute lead.

The Spireites responded with a flurry of pressure, but it was nothing Max Stryjek and the defence couldn’t handle and it was Eastleigh who came close to grabbing the next goal of the game from another Yeates corner from the right.

This time it found the head of McCallum and it needed a top-drawer reflex save by keeper Callum Burton to keep his goal-bound effort out.

With creative spark Yeates oozing class, Eastleigh looked the better footballing side and when the Irishman sent another testing delivery into the box, Reda Johnson found himself in a Chesterfield stranglehold as he attempted to head it, but it went under the radar of the officials.

The visitors responded with another spell of pressure as Hallam rifled an angled drive wide and then Lee Shaw wriggled away from the giant figure of Johnson and attempted to round Stryjek, but the big Polish keeper dived at his feet to force the ball out for a corner.

Eastleigh had stopped imposing themselves on the game and they paid the price in the 42nd minute when the Spireites dragged themselves back on terms.

Binnom-Williams created it and debut-making Sheffield United youngster HALLAM finished it off with a well-struck shot through a crowded penalty area.

Half-time: Eastleigh 1 Chesterfield 1.

Chesterfield came out fired-up for the second half, but the first big chance fell to Eastleigh when Williamson sent strike partner McCallum through on goal. But Burton closed him down and the No9 dragged his effort disappointingly wide.

At the other end, Bradley Barry sent a dangerous ball into the Spitfires’ area which was only marginally too high for Jonathan Smith.

Allen withdrew Lee Shaw and sent on another towering forward,17-old Levi Amantchi, to join the 6ft 7in Tom Denton up top.

The young sub pulled his first shot wide, but his pace and presence instantly proved a handful for Eastleigh who, somewhat wisely, decided to take control of possession again.

Having played the ball through for Williamson who fired into the side netting, Yeates then did the same as he attempted to squeeze a glorious shot inside Burton’s right-hand post.

Williamson then laid the ball off for McCallum, but his low shot rolled straight to the keeper before, with Eastleigh still pressing, Hollands and Williamson both had headed chances – the first going over and the second comfortably gathered by Burton.

On 77 minutes Allen introduced former Eastleigh man Sam Muggleton to try and cause havoc with his long throws.

His first effort failed miserably, but the Eastleigh fans almost had their ironic jeers rammed down their throats when, first, Amantchi lashed a loose ball wide amid bedlam in the home area and then Muggleton himself clipped the top of the crossbar from 18 yards.

As Chesterfield continued the bombardment, Binnom-Williams’ whipped-in cross arrived just too far in front of Amantchi- and Eastleigh were able to breathe again.

Fascinatingly, the pendulum then swung in the Spitfires’ favour as they so nearly won it at the death.

Yeates jinked his way forward and unleashed a shot which was brilliantly parried by Burton. It fell for McCallum but, agonisingly, his shot rebounded off the inside of the post and, try as they might, Eastleigh just couldn’t force the ball in.

Substitute Oscar Gobern was then gifted a shooting chance from distance, but the ball rolled wide and the ex-Saint had a late effort blocked out amid a frantic finale.

Eastleigh: Max Stryjek, Josh Hare, Cav Miley (Oscar Gobern, 81), Danny Hollands, Reda Johnson, Andrew Boyce, Alex Wynter, Joey Jones, Paul McCallum, Ben Williamson (Ollie Dennett, 87), Mark Yeates. Subs (not used): Callum Baughan, Ross Flitney, Tom Bearwish.

Referee: Carl Brook.

Attendance: 1,774