The Non-League Football Paper - - VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE - By Si­mon Carter

EASTLEIGH fi­nally ended their long search for a Na­tional League clean sheet in a dull draw.

Boss Andy Hessen­thaler wel­comed back the imposing fig­ure of Reda John­son as he de­ployed a five-man de­fence for the first time in a bid to end his side’s back­line woes.

John­son, who has been out with a ham­string in­jury, played his first game since the end of Oc­to­ber as Eastleigh ended a re­mark­able run of 26 league games with­out a clean sheet. It was back on Septem­ber 9, in a 0-0 draw at Guise­ley, that the Spit­fires had last kept one.

Talk­ing of his de­ci­sion to go with John­son as one of three cen­tre-halves, Hessen­thaler said: “We sac­ri­ficed some of our at­tack­ing abil­ity in or­der to tighten up at the back. It was great to have Reda back – he’s a player who makes a big dif­fer­ence.”

There were few talk­ing points in a to­tally for­get­table en­counter on a freez­ing cold af­ter­noon.

Vis­it­ing keeper Sam John­son saved well from Chris Ze­broski in the first half, while the ever busy Sam Matthews curled a shot over from a good po­si­tion.

Hal­i­fax didn’t trou­ble Gra­ham Stack un­til the 51st minute, when Matty Ko­sylo beat two de­fend­ers in a mazy run be­fore Stack saved with his legs.

Stack’s only other save was late on when he beat away a shot from sub Michael Fon­dop-Talom.

Eastleigh were fu­ri­ous ref­eree Sam Purkiss didn’t award a penalty when Paul McCal­lum was shoved in the back, while vis­it­ing mid­fielder Jake Higgs could count him­self lucky to only get a yel­low card for a bad foul on McCal­lum.

New Hal­i­fax boss Jamie Fullar­ton was im­pressed with his side’s re­solve against an Eastleigh side with the fourth high­est scor­ing record in the di­vi­sion.

“It was a fan­tas­tic point away from home against a very phys­i­cal and di­rect side.”

STAR MAN: Sam Matthews (Eastleigh) ATT: 1,825 EN­TER­TAIN­MENT: ★★★★★ REF­EREE: Sam Purkiss 6/10

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