EASTLEIGH followed a nightmare journey north with a dream performance at AFC Fylde yesterday.

They couldn’t quite hang on for all three points in Lancashire, but an impressive 2-2 draw extended the Spitfires' unbeaten Vanarama National League run to nine games.

Although Eastleigh travelled on Friday, a hold-up on the motorway played havoc with their preparations.

The 250-mile trip took a staggering nine hours and they were unable to stop off and train at Port Vale as planned.

Striker Chris Zebroski failed a fitness test and manager Andy Hessentaler opted to ring the changes by naming Graham Stack, Ryan Cresswell, Ryan Broom and James Constable in his starting eleven.

And it was on-loan Bristol Rovers wideman Broom who made the biggest impression, twice firing the Hampshire visitors in front on his full debut.

Fylde, the league’s top scorers, took 23 minutes to muster their first shot of note as Eastleigh bossed the early stages, with both Ayo Obileye and Sam Togwell testing Jay Lynch in the home goal.

The Spitfires surged ahead on 24 minutes when Ben Williamson’s flick-on found the blond-haired Broom who coolly side-footed the ball past the onrushing keeper.

That jolted the Coasters into life, but it took them until the 64th minute to muster an equaliser when Zaine Francis-Angol flicked in a right-wing cross at the near post.

Within no time, Eastleigh had gone ahead again courtesy of a supremely confident finish from that man Broom.

Williamson and Sam Matthews were instrumental in the build-up and the Rovers man finished it off by expertly lifting the ball over Lynch from just inside the area.

Stack made a fantastic fingertip save to protect the lead but, just as they had at the Silverlake in September, Fylde fought back for a second time to grab an 85th-minute leveller through fit-again frontman Henry Jones.

It was tough on Eastleigh with a fifth straight victory so tantalisingly close, but manager Andy Hessenthaler reflected: “I think it was a fair result.

“The way we started the game was tremendous. We pinned them back and we got the goal.

“But Fylde are a good side. They’re young, they have very good movement and they take risks. It’s hard to stop their flow of play, but we dug in and defended really well.

“They equalised, but we responded straight afterwards with an absolutely fantastic goal. It was a sublime finish by Ryan who had an exceptional afternoon on his first start.

“It (Fylde's late equaliser) was a little bit frustrating when we were so close to getting all three points, but this was a good point and a valuable one against a decent side.”

The result leaves Eastleigh 11th, six points off play-off pace, but importantly they have momentum on their side.

“My target when I took over was two points a game. I’ve had eight games and we’re actually two points ahead of that target with 18,” said the boss.

“We’ve now got to build on that on Saturday by beating Boreham Wood at home.

“We can’t afford to lose many games – if any – if we’re going to get where we want to be.”

To crown a great new year for the Spitfires, versatile winger/full-back Sam Wood has been named Vanarama National League player-of-the-month for January.