BLUE SQUARE SOUTH: Eastleigh 3 Hayes & Yeading United 3
A terrific Josh Scott-inspired comeback took Hayes & Yeading United from the edge of oblivion to the brink of victory before Eastleigh shared the spoils in a breathless encounter in Hampshire.
United were staring into the abyss when they slumped 2-0 down with only eight minutes played as Garry Haylock's decision to release Neil Martin and so break up what has been such a solid back four, looked likely to cost him dear.
However, Scott got his side back into the game by starting and finishing a length of the field move to give the visitors hope, brought them level with his second of the game and Kieran Knight added a third to complete the turnaround, only for Eastleigh to grab an equaliser of their own.
Either side might have won it with United's celebrations at a stoppage time winner from Scott Fitzgerald being cut short by the referee's whistle.
Eastleigh's pre-match preparations were full of gloom over budget cuts caused by the credit crunch but it was United that faced a serious deficit after indecisive defending capped by Steve Perkins' air kick, allowed Anthony Riviere to go through and beat Delroy Preddie. And when Jamie Brown beat Perkins, with the aid of a sneaky nudge, at the back post to head the second it was no wonder Preddie was screaming 'give me a chance' at his own defence.
United just about coped with the first ball of Eastleigh's aerial bombardment but they were struggling to deal with the second surge and Preddie had to scam-per across his line to prevent Luke Byles making it 3-0 in only 12 minutes, before the visitors finally showed a threat.
United had tried to take advantage of Scott's height advantage over Spitfires right-back Andy Harris yet it was on the deck the midfielder showed his true class. Picking the ball up 30 yards from his own goal, Scott twisted between two opponents, found Knight and strode through the middle to take the return pass on half way. As the pitch opened up Scott accelerated past the last defender and at the end of a 60 yard run the 23-year-old slid the ball past Jason Matthews with the panache to which fans have been accustomed.
Matt Groves hooked just wide as East-leigh almost ended the comeback from the restart but the visitors were back in the hunt and after Knight's thumping volley was turned for a corner, Nevin Saroya flicked on at the near post and there at the back was an unmarked Scott to volley the equaliser, his ninth of the season from left midfield.
Two minutes into the second half United remarkably had their nose in front when Steven Gregory and Knight invited Scott to torment Harris yet again and when Ram Marwa was unable to force the ball home Knight did just that with a top corner finish from a narrow angle.
Eastleigh were not finished yet, however, and after Preddie smothered one shot Brown's volley sped past the helpless United keeper to punish yet more indecisive defending and set up a grand-stand finish.
Initially the Spitfires looked likely to get the next goal, with Will Hendry, who spent periods of the first half more as a holding midfielder than a second striker, making one vital stop on his own line. The towering Tom Jordan also headed a foot wide and Preddie saved low down from Andy Forbes.
Then United seemed poised for the win as Marwa scuffed a decent opportunity and Jordan appeared to clip Hendry but no penalty was forthcoming.
Players from both sides were beginning to look out on their feet when Hay-lock sent on Fitzgerald, switched to 3-5-2 and it almost paid off as the striker sent an acrobatic volley narrowly over the bar with Matthews beaten. Five minutes into stoppage time he wheeled away to celebrate victory only to see the referee had blown, possibly for a block on the keeper, although United could console themselves in the knowledge they had become the first side to take a point away from the Silverlake Stadium.