ANDY Hessenthaler has left Eastleigh to take over struggling National League rivals Dover Athletic on a three-year deal.

The Kent-based 53-year-old replaces Chris Kinnear who was dismissed by the Crabble club on Friday.

Hessenthaler’s departure comes as a major blow to Eastleigh who have won four league games on the bounce and are unbeaten in six.

Dover, in contrast, are labouring second to bottom of the table with just seven points.

It appears that travelling issues were key to Hessenthaler's decision.

A statement from the Spitfires said: “Eastleigh Football Club can today confirm that manager Andy Hessenthaler has left the club to join Dover Athletic.

“The club agreed for Andy to speak to Dover Athletic yesterday and, following discussions between all parties, a compensation package has been agreed.

“Despite the best efforts of the club, the location proved to be a major factor in making his decision.”

Eastleigh's chief executive Kenny Amor said: “We are hugely disappointed to lose Andy. Following conversations, it seems geography has won in this case.

“This was not something that the club had anticipated, however we will move swiftly to appoint the right candidate to continue the good work which has already been started this season.

"The club still remains very ambitious to succeed this season and despite this setback we will make sure whoever takes this role is equally as ambitious.”

“The club would like to take this opportunity to thank Andy for all his efforts whilst at the club and wish him well in all his future endeavours.”

Assistant boss Ben Strevens and goalkeeping coach Ross Flitney will oversee the squad while a replacement is found.

Hessenthaler needs no introduction to Dover fans, having both played and managed there in the past.

He led the Whites to back-to-back promotions from the Ryman South to the Conference South during his spell as player/manager between 2007 and 2010.

Dover chairman Jim Parmenter said: “We are delighted to be able to move so quickly to secure Andy’s services and we are now looking forward to working with him and his team.

“This is a brand new chapter for the football club and it starts right now.”