Eastleigh 4 Hartlepool United 3: Defensive horror show ensures Pools edged out at Ten Acres
A defensive horror show at Eastleigh ensured Hartlepool United's run without a win stretched to 11 games.
Michael Woods twice gave Pools the lead in the opening 45 but his strikes were cancelled out Sam Togwell and Chris Zebroski.
After the break two more from the Spitfires striker ensured the three points remained in Hampshire, despite a late consolation by Conor Newton.
Manager Craig Harrison made two changes to the side who drew with Chester in midweek - in came Tomi Adeloye for Devante Rodney,with Newton starting on the right ahead of Lewis Hawkins.
And Newton was heavily involved in Pools' opener.
Striker Jake Cassidy won the ball in the area and the ball squirmed to the edge of the area. It was picked up by Newton who slid out left to Nicky Deverdics who with one slick touch found Woods in space, who made no mistake from 12 yards.
Pools' lead lasted just 13 minutes, though, as yet more lax defending allowed the hosts back into it.
Scott Harrison, a late call into the side after Liam Donnelly was forced to pull out in the warm up, put in a last ditch challenge to prevent a certain equaliser but from the resulting corner it was 1-1.
No one was marking man mountain Ayo Obileye whose powerful header was sailing wide until Togwell diverted in past a helpless Scott Loach.
The character of this Pools team has been questioned of late, but having gifted the home side a route back into the game they did not collapse. In fact, they did the opposite and continued to create openings and look dangerous.
At both ends of the park balls into the box were causing problems - and it was from one such hopeful centre that Pools got their noses back in front.
A Carl Magnay cross from the right was flicked on at the front post by Nicky Deverdics and Woods was again there, timing his run to perfection to guide home from close range for his eighth of a goal-laden campaign.
But, just as they had earlier, Pools again shot themselves in the foot right on the stroke of half-time.
Another ball into the box found Zebroski at the back stick and he had the simplest of finishes in added time to send his side in level.
Despite the hammer blow before the break Pools came out on the front foot after the break. And Woods came so close to bagging a hat-trick, but his effort from the edge of the area skidded wide.
Loach, who apart from picking the ball out of the net twice, had a pretty quiet afternoon til the hour mark, but he had to be at his very best when Sam Matthews, on loan from Premier League Bournemouth, jinked into space and cracked at goal from the edge of the area. Somehow, as has so often been the case this campaign, Loach produced the heroics and got a foot to it to tip over.
With that, the balance of the game seemed to change. Pools were well on top just after the break but retreated into their shell from then on.
And they were made to pay for that hesitant approach, when yet again, they failed to defend a cross into the area.
This time it came from the left but it was the same result as Zebrozki bagged his second, and they won't come much easier for the veteran frontman.
It was curtains for Pools with around 14 minutes to go when Zebrozki popped up to turn home his fourth with Pools all at sorts and unravelling as the minutes wore on.
They did threaten a comeback when the ball dropped to midfielder Newton on edge of area and he cracked in to the top corner. But it was too little, too late.
And just to put the icing on the cake skipper Magnay was sent off for handling in the area.
Pools are now winless since November 21. And that run will likely continue if they defend like this week-in, week-out.