Chester FC went down 3-2 today on the south coast as Eastleigh proved too much for the Blues despite a late comeback against their hosts in the Vanarama Conference this afternoon.
Goals from Sean McConville and Kingsley James were not quite enough for Chester after Eastleigh had taken a 3-0 lead through Ben Strevens, a Stuart Fleetwood penalty, and Craig McAllister in a game that saw both Eastleigh captain Dean Beckwith and Chester striker Matty Hughes sent off for fighting.
Chester made one change, which was enforced, to the team with Matty Brown coming in for the suspended Michael Kay - and Brown was in the thick of it immediately when he cleared off the line in the first couple of minutes from a McAllister header.
But Steve Burr's side, who have only won twice in the league away from home this season, did have a chance to take the lead minutes later but Sean McConville's shot was weak after he was set up by Fleetwood Town loanee Hughes.
However, Chester did find themselves behind midway through the first half. McAllister set up Ben Strevens who scored with his second attempt, after the first shot was well stopped by Jon Worsnop.
Then, five minutes prior to the interval, the game took an ugly turn as both sides were reduced to ten men. An altercation between the Eastleigh captain Beckwith and Chester forward Hughes saw marching orders dished out to both players. Beckwith appeared to grab Hughes by the neck after the forward had seemed to headbutt the Spitfires defender.
Twenty players returned to the pitch for the second half, and it would be the ten of Chester that will have been happy with their start following the interval. Sub Peter Winn, who replaced the injured Craig Mahon, had a deflected shot saved before the winger twice set up Craig Hobson who put his respective shots wide and then straight at the legs of Eastleigh keeper Ross Flitney.
Nevertheless, those missed chances proved hugely costly for the Blues as Ben Heneghan conceded a penalty just after the hour mark, clipping the heels of Jai Reason. Stuart Fleetwood comfortably converted the spot kick to double the hosts advantage.
A matter of minutes later it was to get even worse for Chester when McAllister scored after finding himself in acres of space following a good clipped pass by Reason.
Then came the mini comeback. Jamie Menagh found Winn who crossed a ball to the back post for McConville to steer home his fourth league goal of the season.
Substitute Menagh was then inches away from connecting with a cross by John Rooney, and moments later he was denied by Flitney - again the chance set up by Rooney.
Tireless midfielder Kingsley James did pull another goal back deep into stoppage time with an excellently taken left footed finish, but the Spitfires hung on to the win to inflict a ninth league defeat of the season on Chester.
Chester FC: Worsnop, Heneghan, Brown, Charnock, G Roberts, Rooney, James, Mahon (Winn 34), McConville, Hughes, Hobson (Menagh 69).
Subs Not Used: C Roberts, Harrison, Touray.
Goal: Strevens 25, Fleetwood (pen) 61, McAllister 65; McConville 78, James 90.
Sent off: Hughes & Beckwith 39
Referee: Adam Bromley (Plymouth).