Conference National: Kidderminster Harriers- Eastleigh
Hosts are suffering financially, players and staff have had salary payments delayed several times this season and all refused to speak to the media recently as a protest. They have now been paid up to date and a wealthy husband and wife who support the club have agreed to bankroll salaries until the end of the season, which at least provides employees with a little stability, but this is a club which is going to have to go backwards , before it can progress. Costs are being cut in every area possible and manager Gary Whild, or whomever is in charge next season, will be operating with a greatly reduced budget probably less than a third of what Eastleigh had last season in the Conference South, the level below National. As you can imagine, the mood at the club is a little subdued and this has manifested itself with their on the pitch performances. Hanging around the playoff fringes (as usual) just before Christmas, Kiddy are 2-3-6 since Boxing Day and the goals have dried up, failing to score in 5 of six (0-3-3) and managing just two goals in nine outings.
The visitors are very well bank rolled by Stewart Donald who had a five year plan to get Eastleigh and the ground up to league standard and many millions later, they would be a year + ahead of schedule were it to be achieved this season.We picked up on what was going on with the Spitfires very early and notes from the last couple of years can be read in the preview of one of their early season games at the foot of this email. I would suggest that you (at least) read the last 2-3 paragraphs of that to get some background information. This could well be the second team we have followed from the sitxth tier into the FL, Fleetwood Town were the first and they are now pushing for a League 1 promotion spot and the Spitfires could do something similar. When trying to pick up on these big potential improvers, I feel the key is looking for owners who provide at least equal funding for off the pitch activities, ground,pitch, training facilities etc, long term projects, then at least you know they are not just looking for a quick fix, an instant return and that they are probably in it for the long haul.
The visitors have been hanging around just outside the top 5 ( only one auto and four playoff spots) for most of the campaign, but fell behind due to a number of postponed fixtures, however, they have run into some real form, winning their last three scoring seven goals , beating 4th placed Macclesfield Town 4-0 infront of the television cameras and winning 2-1 at leaders Bristol Rovers, who were previously 13-4-1 at home, last weekend. That leaves then 6th, outside the post season spots by 5 points and only 13 adrift of Roevrs in first and with 2-3 games in hand over all the clubs above them in the table. They have momentum and the winning mentality from taking the South title last season and there is no knowing how far they could go now with 11 matches still to play. I would suggest that a top 5 spot is very possible/likely (7.0 for promotion currently looks tempting) and we can keep an eye on them on and off over the final two months of the season. They have five forward players , James Constable, Jack Midson, Craig McAllister (the trio are inter changeable up front), Jai Reason and Ben Strevens who are closing in on 50 goals between them and with huge Football League experience, Reason has just earned the Conference POTM award for February. These are options/alternatives other teams do not have and the possibility to continually freshen things up, will be key when others clubs/players are running on empty. 1.25 units Eastleigh level ball 2.15 asian line/Sportmarket Pro ( Pinnacle). there is up to 2.375 for the same market (draw no bet) with european style bookmakers and a general 2.90 - 3.25 for the straight away win, which also appeals. The standard asian quote is +0.25 1.80 which is ok too, but odds are below what I ever personally play, but that is just my own preference, you might see things differently.