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Opposition Lowdown: Richard Hill's Eastleigh

Reading’s FA Cup campaign continues with a second-round away tie against non-league Eastleigh. Join us as we take a closer look at the opposition.

Hartlepool United v Eastleigh - Vanarama National League Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Form

Eastleigh finished 9th in the National League last season, only 4 points off of the playoffs. They currently sit in 11th place in the league following 8 wins, 6 draws and 8 losses.

This is their tenth straight season in the National League, having been promoted from the National League South in 2014. Their recent form has been mixed, winning 2, drawing 1 and losing 2 of their last five league games.

They beat National League South side Dover Athletic 1-0 at home to qualify for the first round stage, before beating Boreham Wood 5-1 at home to make it into the hat for the second round.

Reading have never faced Eastleigh in a competitive fixture but the two sides have played each other in a number of pre-season friendlies over the years with the last game coming in 2018, where the Spitfires beat the Royals 2-1 at the Silverlake Stadium.

The boss

Richard Hill: Hill was appointed Eastleigh manager on a full-time basis in September this year, having been in temporary charge of the side following Lee Bradbury’s sacking in August.

This marked his second spell as manager of the Spitfires, having had a spell in charge between 2012 and 2015.

During his playing career, Hill was a midfielder who played for the likes of Northampton Town, Watford and Oxford United. His first managerial role came at Stevenage Borough before he then took on a number of assistant manager roles. He returned to management in 2012 taking over the reins at Eastleigh, where he guided the side to promotion to the National League in 2014.

A spell in charge at Whitehawk followed, before he returned to Eastleigh as their new Director of Football. A spell at Sunderland followed, where he took on the role of Head of Football Operations, before again returning to Eastleigh as Club Director in March this year. He returned to the Eastleigh dugout in September and has led the side to 9 wins in his 18 games so far.

Squad

Fourteen players joined the Spitfires this summer, with 11 joining the club on free transfers. Those coming in on a free included: goalkeeper Tommy Scott, defenders Lee Hodson, Ludwig Francillette and Ryan Clampin, midfielders Jake Taylor, Aidan Barlow and Solomon Nwabuokei, wingers Chris Maguire and Enzio Boldewijn and forwards Paul McCallum and Scott Quigley.

Three players joined on loan, with defenders Bailey Clements and Trent Rendall joining from Chesterfield and QPR and midfielder Jayden Harris joining from Carlisle United.

Expected lineup

McDonnell, Francillette, Langston, Harris, Rutherford, Taylor, Antangana, Hodson, Boldewijn, Quigley, McCallum

Key player

Paul McCallum: Forward McCallum joined Eastleigh back in May this year starting his second spell at the club. He started his youth career at Dulwich Hamlet before signing for the West Ham youth team.

He spent a number of years at the Hammers and had a number of loan spells away from the club before signing a permanent deal with Leyton Orient in 2015. His first spell at Eastleigh followed, where he scored 35 goals for the club.

Permanent moves to Solihull Moors and Dagenham & Redbridge followed before he resigned for Eastleigh earlier on this year.

He has 16 goals to his name so far this season and is the National League top scorer. The 30 year old striker is an aerial threat, standing at 6ft 3inches tall.