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Ebbsfleet United 2 Whitehawk 2 match report

By Steve Tervet

Ebbsfleet came back from the dead to claim a point at Stonebridge Road on Saturday.

They trailed Whitehawk 2-0 at half-time having been outplayed for the first 45 minutes.

But two half-time substitutions changed the game and the two players sent on, Matt Godden and Danny Haynes, scored the goals which earned the Fleet a valuable point.

The old ground was rocking in the second half as the home players rallied and gave everything to the cause while the Hawks - so dominant at the start of the afternoon - were left clinging on by its end.

Robbie Willmott takes on former Fleet full-back Chris Sessegnon Picture: Andy Payton
Robbie Willmott takes on former Fleet full-back Chris Sessegnon Picture: Andy Payton

Ebbsfleet boss Daryl McMahon started with the team which finished last Saturday's 2-1 win at Wealdstone, which meant Dean Rance came into the XI at the expense of Godden.

New signing Bryan van den Bogaert made his debut for the visitors, while Shamir Fenelon, having just joined on loan from Crawley Town, was named among their substitutes.

The game started at a frantic pace, with Whitehawk closing their hosts down at every opportunity.

Scott Neilson had a shot charged down by Kenny Clark and as the Sussex side started to get a grip on proceedings, they took the lead on 20 minutes.

Whitehawk were awarded a penalty when Nick Arnold tumbled under Joe Howe's lunging challenge and although Brandon Hall saved Sam Deering's spot-kick, the resulting right-wing corner was bundled over the line from point-blank range by David Ijaha.

McMahon's side were stunned and they almost conceded again moments later, Juan Cruz Gotta powering a free header over the bar from their next corner.

Key men like John Paul Kissock and Jordan Parkes were simply having no impact on proceedings, due in the main to Whitehawk's tenacity and organisation.

When ex-Hawks midfielder Kissock did get free in midfield, he spread the ball wide to Matt Fish only for the full-back's cross to drift harmlessly behind.

And things got even worse for the home side nine minutes before half-time.

Parkes tried a find Kissock with a short corner from the left but the set-piece was badly executed and ruthlessly punished. Whitehawk broke from one end to the other in less than 10 seconds and Deering rifled a brilliant shot past Hall from the edge of the box.

McMahon raged in the technical area as Whitehawk celebrated wildly.

It took until the 42nd minute for the Fleet to register their first effort on goal and when they did, Parkes' free-kick from a central position was straight at keeper Craig Ross.

Gotta headed a dangerous Howe cross off the line in the last incident of note in the first half.

Ebbsfleet captain Tom Bonner gets to the ball ahead of Danny Mills Picture: Andy Payton
Ebbsfleet captain Tom Bonner gets to the ball ahead of Danny Mills Picture: Andy Payton

McMahon needed to make changes and he duly did, dragging off Parkes and Kissock at the interval and sending on Godden and Haynes.

The home side immediately had more life about them and Danny Kedwell's header from a Robbie Willmott corner was tipped over by Ross.

Willmott then headed over from a Fish cross and Hall's monster clearance almost got Kedwell in behind the Hawks defence.

The home crowd cranked up the volume and they were on their feet moments later. Godden sparked a huge roar when his low drive fizzed past Ross into the bottom corner.

Ebbsfleet began turning the screw. Haynes had a low shot turned round the base of the post, Godden went close from Willmott's cross and Ross did well to keep out Kedwell's next header from a Willmott cross.

The visitors eventually calmed the storm and a wild Haynes strike which flew well over the bar was all Ebbsfleet had to show during the next passage of play.

But the scores were level 12 minutes from time when Haynes arrived at just the right time to slide a left-wing cross into the net.

Clark had a downward header saved by Ross and Willmott smashed a free-kick over, although Whitehawk almost won it at the death when Ijaha sent a shot whistling past the angle from 20 yards.

There was to be no late winner but the crowd went away having witnessed something special.

Ebbsfleet: Hall, Fish, Howe, S Lewis, Clark, Bonner, Rance, Parkes (Haynes 46mins), Kedwell (Cunnington 73mins), Kissock (Godden 46mins), Willmott. Subs not used: Acheampong, Miles.

Whitehawk: Ross, Arnold, Sessegnon, Ijaha, Gotta, van den Bogaert, Deering, Torres, Neilson (Fenelon 67mins), Mills (Stevens 75mins), Mendy (Martin 61mins). Subs not used: Ngamvoulou, Gayler.

Attendance: 972.

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