WHEN the going gets tough, the tough get going.

And Eastleigh boss Ben Strevens could not have been prouder of his team after yesterday's gutsy 2-1 home win over Braintree Town.

The afternoon was riddled with setbacks for the Spitfires, who conceded a dubious penalty, lost three players to injury and had substitute Cav Miley sent off.

But the players determinedly stuck together to grind out their fourth National League victory on the spin.

With league leaders Solihull Moors held 2-2 by Barnet, it means the eighth-placed Spitfires have now taken more points than any side in the division from the last 21 games.

Only goal difference separates them from Gateshead and Sutton who occupy sixth and seventh respectively.

Braintree may be propping up the table, but a 1-0 win over Salford City the previous week had underlined their threat.

And, after another Paul McCallum brace had sealed The Iron’s downfall, Strevens admitted: “That was probably the hardest game out of all of them.

“It seemed like everything that could have gone wrong for us did, but the players really dug in and I’m as proud of them today as I’ve been all season.

“It’s not just how we played, it’s how hard the lads worked for each other and threw themselves on the line. We were down to ten men for over half an hour with three senior players off the pitch.

“I was about to take Yeatesy (Mark Yeates) off, who had a back problem, when Dutchy (Danny Hollands) went down, so Yeatesy had to stay on.”

Given the slimline nature of Eastleigh’s squad, the injuries are a worry considering Ben Williamson and Oscar Gobern will be out for at least a couple more weeks.

Johnson has a recurrence of hamstring trouble, 19-goal McCallum had been suffering back/shoulder spasms in the build-up to the game and Hollands has a groin issue.

But Strevens said: “Hopefully none of them is too serious and they’ll be OK for Salford (away) on Saturday.”

Miley will miss that game suspended, but the young Channel Islander, who picked up two bookings in quick succession, has not blotted his copybook in the manager's eyes.

"Cav's apologised in there (the dressing room), but he never, ever has to apologise.

"He's one of the nicest kids you're ever going to meet," said Strevens.

"He works so hard and he's been a bit unfortunate not to be playing lately.

"It's just his age. He's tracked back and should have stood up (for the second booking) instead of going in for a tackle he probably shouldn't have made.

"But when you make a mistake, you need your mates to get you out of trouble, and our lads did."