Eastleigh favoured a 4-4-2 earlier in the season, but have moved towards a 4-2-3-1 more recently, using Sam Matthews a role in the hole behind a lone striker and using the likes of Chris Zebroski as a wide attacker who can use his height to get into the box in support of the forward.
Eastleigh’s hopes of a place in the play-offs were dashed by a run of seven games without a win through February and March, but since then they have bounced back with some eye-catching results. Most pertinently, in their last two games they beat two sides in the play-off spots: Dover were beaten 2-1 at Eastleigh and then Aldershot were defeated on their own patch last Monday.
The win against Dover ended a poor run of home form: they failed to score in any of their three home matches before then.
Eastleigh can look to play out from the back, but have the option of going long to Paul McCallum up front or Chris Zebroski on the right.
Zebroski and Yeates switched flanks surprisingly early in the Aldershot game. While they do look t exchange occasionally, Yeates tends to be more effective on the left, where he can cut inside onto his right foot and still deliver accurately, but is also able to shoot. He likes to run at defenders and is comfortable crossing on his left foot. He is also keen to shoot with either foot, and takes right-footed set pieces, being keen to shoot from free kicks if possible. Zebroski offers a good far post aerial target for Yeates.
Despite being predominantly right footed, left back Sam Wood can deliver crosses from overlaps on the left, and links with Yeates. His adventurous nature can leave spaces behind him though.
Sam Matthews is a dangerous player, who was highly impressive when Wrexham played at Eastleigh at the end of last season. He plays in the hole behind the striker and, although he is capable of getting into the box in support of McCallum, he is more naturally inclined to hold back on the edge of the area and look for opportunities to shoot on his left foot. He consistently gets a high number of shots off from outside the box per game, and although he favours his left, he can also shoot with his right.
Defensively, Eastleigh’s change to a 4-2-3-1 shape makes them more open to the counter attack, as Yeates and Zebroski, who are both key attacking players, often commit high up the pitch, leaving space behind them which can be exploited. The front four can be quite slow to track back, leaving space a side can exploit on the break.
Eastleigh have, throughout the season, found that teams can create chances by playing the ball in behind their centre backs, and this has clearly been evident in recent matches as they’ve left space in behind their defence. This state of affairs could be exacerbated since the switch to 4-2-3-1 and the openness to the counter-attack mentioned above, as the centre backs find themselves exposed and having to step up as sides break on them swiftly.
Eastleigh also seem vulnerable to crosses, and have conceded a number of chances in recent games from balls in from the flanks. A common theme has been a vulnerability to crosses coming in from the left, with Andrew Boyce, the right-sided centre back, losing aerial duels to players attacking the far post.
Left back Sam Wood seems to be vulnerable to players running at him, and his natural inclination to push up the pitch can make it possible to pass to runners in behind him.