FORMER Eastleigh boss Andy Hessenthaler used to say that if the Spitfires delivered enough good crosses to Paul McCallum, the powerful No9 would score.

On Saturday (3pm) Hessenthaler will hope those words don’t come back to bite him when he returns to the Silverlake with his new charges Dover Athletic for the first time since his early October departure.

Hessenthaler was influential in bringing McCallum to Eastleigh two summers ago having previously worked with him at Orient.

The 25-year-old has been a slow burner for the Spitfires but has really come into his own in recent weeks, netting successive away braces at Barrow and Maidstone to hoist his season’s National League tally to 11.

Having talent like Mark Yeates and Josh Hare to supply the ammunition has been key to McCallum’s success – something Hessenthaler will be only too aware of.

But, as new Eastleigh boss Ben Strevens pointed out: “It’s one thing identifying it, but another trying to stop it.

“When Martin Allen (another ex-Eastleigh boss) came here with Chesterfield last week, he said we know you’re good at getting crosses into the box and Paul McCallum’s a threat.

“You can try and stop Paul, but it’s all about the delivery and Josh, from right wing-back, and Yeatesy are getting some good balls in.

“I’m happy for Paul. He felt down on Saturday (after not scoring against Chesterfield), but he’s got two at Maidstone and to have 11 goals before Christmas is a real good thing.

“We said at the start of the season that he can get 20 goals.”

Having worked hard alongside Hessenthaler to build the foundations for this season, former No2 Strevens has only good things to say about the Dover boss.

“I really like Hess, he's a good guy,” he said. “I spoke to him on Tuesday and he wished me luck for Maidstone and I wished him luck for his game.

“We struck up a good relationship here and I want him to do well.

“I think he genuinely wants us to do well too because we put this group together between us and worked very hard in pre-season on spirit and togetherness.

“Of course I want to beat him on Saturday and he’ll be trying to plot our downfall too. He's competitive and he's a fighter and it'll be another tough test for us. I don't take anything for granted.

"They've been playing three at the back, similar to us, and Hess will know our strengths and weaknesses. It's one I'm looking forward to.

"But when the game's over we’ll wish each other well. I’m sure Eastleigh is one of the first results Hess looks out for and Dover’s one of mine." 

Dover still have work to do, sitting second-to-bottom of the table, but the tide is turning under Hessenthaler.

They will come to the Silverlake on the back of two straight victories at home to Hartlepool (2-1) and away to Boreham Wood (1-0).

Eastleigh, ninth, have lost just one of the last 13 league games and the 3-1 midweek Maidstone success leaves them just a point shy of the play-off zone.

Goalkeeper Max Stryjek and centre-back Reda Johnson should both be back available on Saturday and Michael Green is on the mend from groin trouble.

In Green’s absence, young midfielder Cav Miley has filled the left wing-back role and was one of Tuesday’s star men.

“Maidstone knew Cav wasn’t a natural wing-back and tested him with a lot of diagonals and high balls, but he dealt with everything,” said Strevens.

“He’s a good player and should have more confidence in himself.

"Max (Stryjeck) was struggling with illness and Andrew Boyce and Alex Wynter were struggling (with injuries) too.

"But Boycey and Wynter put their hands up to play and, as the game was on astroturf, we thought it best to rest Reda. If he'd picked up an injury, it might have knocked him back for a few weeks."

One of Tuesday's highlights for Strevens was throwing young Callum Baughan on for his National League debut in the dying minutes.

"It's a good feeling to be able to hand someone their league debut," he said.

"I played a game with Callum before I left the club (to go to Whitehawk) and then he had a very bad cruciate ligament injury.

"When I came back he was taken on as an apprentice.

"He's a real nice lad who's never moaned and it felt good to put him on. He deserved it."