Head start is surprise to Spitfires new boy

By Wendy Gee -

ANDREW White may have been a new name for Eastleigh fans to conjure with at the Silverlake Stadium last Saturday - but not for pre-season opponents Reading.

The teenage striker, who has agreed to become the Spitfires' first full-time professional, spent three years with the Royals from the ages of 15 to 18.

Reading boss Brian McDermott was reserve team manager when White was a first-year scholar at the Madejski Stadium and Royals' forward Jacob Walcott - cousin of ex-Saint Theo - was his old roommate.

White, who hails from Epsom, Surrey, is joining Eastleigh's new player development scheme after being released by npower League Two club Gillingham where he spent last season as a first-year pro.

He describes himself as "pacy and a good finisher" and proved as good as his word in Eastleigh's 3-2 humbling of Reading, producing a lively first-half performance which earned him a goal - a far-post header - and the sponsors' man-of-the-match award.

When I was younger I scored loads of goals, but you lose it a bit the higher up you go because it gets more physical," he said after the game.

"As under-16's, me and Jacob Walcott scored 50 between us when we were Reading schoolboys."

White has lived away from home since joining Reading as a scholar and the 19-year-old is now acclimatising to his new digs in Woolston, Southampton, having moved down to the south coast recently.

A lean, fast six-footer, he is looking forward to playing off Eastleigh's powerful former Tottenham target man Jamie Slabber who bagged 25 goals for the Spitfires last term.

"Jamie holds everything up and does all the heading and stuff, so it's good to play off him," he said.

"I usually play as one of two up front or out on the wing.

"I've never played in the hole (just behind the striker) before the Reading game, but I managed to score my goal which was pleasing. I've only scored about five headers in the whole of my career and I was surprised by the room I had. I was expecting someone to come through the back of me."

Although White has spent the past four years in the professional ranks, he is not a newcomer to non-League.

"When I was at Reading I went on loan to Staines and Basingstoke and I was loaned to Bishop's Stortford last season, so I've had some experience of Conference South football, although I don't think I've ever played against Eastleigh," he said.

"At Gillingham I played mostly in the reserves, but I made two first-team appearances against Norwich in the Carling Cup and against Barnet at the end of last season.

"Unfortunately we lost both times, but it was a good experience for me."

Eastleigh boss Ian Baird was impressed with White's display against Reading.

"He's quick and he's done well," he said.

"He's had a stop-start career, but the penny's started to drop and he knows that wherever he goes he's got to work extremely hard."

White will be joined as an Eastleigh full-timer by three products of the club's academy/youth set-up - Sam Wilson, a 16-year-old forward, Ben Wilson, a 17-year-old centre-back/left-back and central midfielder Liam Hibberd.


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