Boss Richard Hill insisted Eastleigh are “now in a relegation battle” after yesterday’s insipid performance at Sutton United.

The 2-0 defeat sent them tumbling to 19th in the Vanarama National League and, while they are still seven points above the drop zone, they produced nothing at Gander Green Lane to suggest better times are just around the corner.

“It’s the worst I’ve seen since I came back to the club and probably the worst in my two spells here,” said Hill. “I’m sorry for those fans who travelled and paid good money to watch that.

“Believe it or believe it not, we are now in a relegation battle after 23 games, there’s no getting away from that,” he warned.

“The next 23 have got to be better than the last 23 – and definitely better than the last ten.”

Tom Bolarinwa gave the Us a 13th-minute lead, pick-pocketing Callum Howe on the corner of his own area before tucking the ball under the helpless Graham Stack.

To rub salt in the Spitfires’ wounds, Sutton’s 82nd-minute second was scored by a young lad from their own doorstep – former Otterbourne and Salisbury striker Tommy Wright, who wrapped things up with a sweetly executed lob set up by ex-Spitfire Ross Lafayette’s flick.

Mark Yeates went close at the end for Eastleigh, playing a one-two with Craig McAllister and unleashing a rasping shot that Us keeper Jamie Butler managed to tip over.

Paul Doswell’s Us are now at the top of the table and Hill said: “Let’s give them some credit. Sutton are a good side with players who know the league and how to play it. They were stronger physically, as you need to be in this league. They were better than us. End of.

“We’ve got some really nice, decent blokes who have been good players, which is why they were signed, but at the moment they’re not playing well.”

Alluding to some sleepless nights, Hill added: “I look at myself in the mirror every day of the week – mostly between 2am and 6am. It’s not a case of me blaming the players. We’re all accountable and yesterday’s performance was not acceptable in any way, shape or form.”

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