BLUE SQUARE SOUTH Hayes & Yeading United 0 Eastleigh 1
TWO errors of judgement cost Hayes & Yeading United the chance to take second place back off Eastleigh as a late goal left them with a narrow defeat at Church Road and gave the Spitfires their fifth league win in a row.
The first came when Will Hendry decided to go into a full-blooded challenge with Luke Byles on the halfway line and after consulting his assistant, referee Seen Feerick showed the midfielder a straight red card, leaving United with 24 minutes to play with 10 men.
Until then Hendry had looked the game's likely match winner with his dead ball prowess coming into its own in a contest littered with free kicks.
His 31st minute effort, from all of 35 yards, beat Jason Matthews for pace but the keeper recovered just enough to fingertip the ball on to the crossbar.
That was the closest either side had come to an opening goal before Hendry's dismissal, which came just as United were putting together the only spell of pressure either team managed and, to their credit, going a man down changed nothing from that perspective as the hosts continued to press.
However, four minutes from time came the second lapse when left-back Ronnie Bull opted to let a ball drop over his head, believing it would run through for a goal kick, only to see Peter Adeniyi keep it in play and Tom Cadmore had to cover at the expense of a corner.
And from that, the towering Tom Jordan got free to head home from six yards on a day when one goal always seemed likely to settle the issue, in stark contrast to October's fixture which ended three apiece.
It was harsh on United and particularly so on the defence which was so imperious that Aaron Howe had to be watchful but was rarely called into action.
He should have been earlyonbut Adeniyi blazed a good chance way over the bar after Tony Taggart cut through yet Howe was not tested again until Hendry exited and then it was only to race off his line to sweep up a through ball, while Matt Groves shot over and later turned and flashed another effort across the face of goal.
The Spitfires certainly had plenty of possession but their aerial threat which had caused United so many problems in Hampshire, was nullified by Cadmore, outstanding once again, and by Peter Collins, who impressed at both ends of the pitch having stepped in for the suspended Matt Ruby. Danny Allen-Page and Bull were similarly impressive although it was Collins that caught the eye early on, sneaking in unnoticed by Eastleigh and indeed by some home fans to plant a shot from Hendry's corner straight at Matthews.
Esmond James and Kieran Knight also threatened in a first half containing few highlights and one definite lowlight - Scott Fitzgerald's departure to a broken collar bone sustained in a shuddering challenge with the keeper - although it did mean half a game for the lively Ram Marwa.
After the break United began to get on top and Hendry sliced wide from close range albeit from a narrow angle and Marwa could not keep a difficult snapshot on target after Knight's hard work brought a hurried clearance from Matthews, before his side was reduced to 10. Suddenly there seemed acres more space on the pitch yet it was United that used it better, Marwa failing with an attempted overhead from Knight's knock down, before Jordan landed the knockout blow.
Garry Haylock handed reserve team leading scorer Andre Costa his first team debut in the final minutes but he never had the chance to rescue the situation for which Hendry must take his share of the blame. The 22-year-old is undoubtedly talented but he does play on the edge and on this occasion the referee decided he had stepped over it, although Haylock felt a yellow card was more appropriate.