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Ebbsfleet United 2 Hemel Hempstead Town 2 match report

Ebbsfleet were held to a third successive draw in National League South on Saturday.

They led Hemel Hempstead twice at Stonebridge Road but failed to see the game out.

Danny Kedwell also had a penalty saved - the second time Fleet have failed from the spot this week.

Sam Deering challenges for the ball against Hemel Hempstead Picture: Andy Payton
Sam Deering challenges for the ball against Hemel Hempstead Picture: Andy Payton

Summer signing Bradley Bubb made his Ebbsfleet debut after missing the start of the season through injury, while Kedwell was passed fit to lead the line.

Charlie Sheringham, who missed from the penalty spot against Whitehawk in midweek, dropped to the bench, while Anthony Cook, who scored the Fleet goal that night, was not involved at all.

Tony Diagne made his debut in a Hemel side which included four players who faced Ebbsfleet in the play-offs with Whitehawk last season.

Fleet boss Daryl McMahon stuck with the 4-2-3-1 formation he used in midweek. Bubb lined up wide on the left, with Sam Deering playing closest to Kedwell and Sean Shields operating down the right-hand side.

A change of ends at the coin toss meant Ebbsfleet kicked off into a strong breeze but they had the wind in their sails thanks to a stroke of luck in the sixth minute.

Jordan Rose, under no pressure, headed the ball into his own net to gift the hosts an early lead.

Fleet had gone close just before the goal when Deering collected Kedwell's diagonal pass and played in Bubb for a shot which Jonathan Henly did well to save.

The visitors almost equalised straight away however. David King's cross from the right bounced back off the crossbar and Marvin McCoy had to concede a corner at the far post.

Dave Winfield looks to clear his lines for Ebbsfleet against Hemel Picture: Andy Payton
Dave Winfield looks to clear his lines for Ebbsfleet against Hemel Picture: Andy Payton

Back up the other end, Shields picked out the overlapping McCoy and his deep cross reached Kedwell, whose header was scrambled off the line.

Two of the ex-Hawks combined at a free-kick for Hemel but Jake Robinson's shot from a Scott Neilson lay-off dribbled harmlessly wide.

With Deering buzzing around in the hole, Ebbsfleet looked good going forward without creating any clear-cut chances.

James Potton managed to find space in the Fleet box and latched onto a Sam Corcoran pass before forcing an excellent save from Nathan Ashmore, who was out quickly.

A deep cross from Deering gave Kedwell another heading opportunity and again he made the Hemel defence work.

Ebbsfleet then put together the best move of the first half, started by Stuart Lewis taking a quick free-kick to McCoy. The full-back in turn fed Kedwell, his clever flick found Deering in space 20 yards out and the midfielder set up Shields for a powerful drive which flashed narrowly wide.

Deering swirled a free-kick, from near the left-hand touchline, just past the angle of post and bar, but moments later a set-piece at the other end had Hemel on terms.

Bubb needlessly clipped Neilson's ankles as he ran along the face of the penalty area and Neilson picked himself up to score a fine equaliser. He whipped the free-kick over the wall and although Ashmore got a strong hand to the ball, the strike was so well-placed he could only push it into the roof of the net.

Nathan Ashmore can't keep out Scott Neilson's free-kick Picture: Andy Payton
Nathan Ashmore can't keep out Scott Neilson's free-kick Picture: Andy Payton

After a scrappy start to the second half, James Kaloczi made a brilliant diving block to deny Deering when Kedwell's deep cross from the right dropped in front of him.

Robinson then got into a dangerous area for Hemel but sent his attempted chip wide.

Jack Powell was sent on for the last 25 minutes but Ebbsfleet were now labouring all over the pitch. Heavy touches and misplaced passes had the supporters groaning as any tempo disappeared from the game.

The home crowd finally came to life when Dean Rance played a fine crossfield pass to Shields, who cut inside and saw his left-footed shot blocked behind.

Fleet blew a great chance to go in front when Kedwell saw his penalty saved after left-back Jack Connors had been tripped.

Shields did make it 2-1, skipping past his man and rifling the ball home 10 minutes from time.

But the home side couldn't hold that lead for even a minute as Robinson stole in to beat Ashmore straight from the restart.

Both sides had chances in stoppage-time, Shields seeing a shot deflect wide and Robinson's header forcing a great save from Ashmore, but it finished all square and there were boos from sections of the home crowd at full-time.

Ebbsfleet: Ashmore, McCoy, Connors, Lewis (Powell 64mins), Winfield, Clark, Deering, Rance, Kedwell, Bubb (Sheringham 70mins), Shields. Subs not used: Greenidge, Miles, McQueen.

Hemel Hempstead: Henly, King, Kelly, Mendy, Diagne (Osborne 77mins), Rose (Asafu-Adjaye 60mins), Neilson, Corcoran, Robinson, Potton (Wise 83mins), Kaloczi. Subs not used: Weiss, Richens.

Attendance: 912.

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