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Ebbsfleet United 2 Hartlepool United 2 match report

The 10 men of Ebbsfleet produced an amazing comeback to snatch a point in the National League on Saturday.

Myles Weston scored twice late on to rescue a draw for Kevin Watson’s side, who are now four league games unbeaten.

Ebbsfleet close down Hartlepool on Saturday. Picture: Sean Aidan FM21792468
Ebbsfleet close down Hartlepool on Saturday. Picture: Sean Aidan FM21792468

There were six changes for the Fleet with keeper Harry Palmer, defender Jamie Grimes, wing-back Lawrie Wilson, midfielders Albie Morgan and Frankie Sutherland and striker Josh Umerah all coming into the side beaten in the FA Cup by Notts County last weekend.

Maybe it was that lack of cohesion that led to a sloppy start from both teams.

But Hartlepool were clearly buoyed by their FA Cup win at Yeovil and quickly got into their stride.

A short corner played in Mark Kitching, who set up Gavan Holohan, his right-foot shot from the edge of the box gathered by Palmer at the second attempt.

Fleet had their best chance of the half on 18 minutes when Gozie Ugwu fed Umerah, but his low right-foot shot was blocked by the legs of keeper Ben Killip.

The lively Luke James found the side netting before the visitors took the lead just past the half-hour. Fleet dived in on the edge of their own box and Hartlepool played the ball neatly to set up Holohan, whose shot was deflected beyond Palmer.

Morgan shot wide for the Fleet but they were on the backfoot by this stage with Hartlepool looking like scoring every time they went forward.

Patient in their approach work, there was no rush over the second goal as James took his time before delivering a right-wing cross and Holohan had plenty of space in the Fleet penalty area to head beyond Palmer for his second of the afternoon.

Referee Lloyd Wood shows Fleet's Josh Umerah the red card. Picture: Sean Aidan FM21792516
Referee Lloyd Wood shows Fleet's Josh Umerah the red card. Picture: Sean Aidan FM21792516

Umerah let his frustrations get the better of him on the stroke of half-time, presumably kicking out at Pools defender Michael Raynes, who had just played a back pass. Referee Lloyd Wood needed no second invitation to brandish the red card.

The visitors almost added a third in stoppage time but Palmer did well to turn Nicky Featherstone’s shot wide of the upright.

Holohan should have completed his hat-trick two minutes after the restart but he somehow blazed over from eight yards after Palmer failed to hold James’s shot on the turn.

Referee Wood was centre stage again on 68 minutes. Featherstone got caught out by Weston and when he hauled the Fleet man back as he burst through on goal, there seemed only one outcome. But Wood somehow showed only yellow when it could have easily been red.

Clearly aggrieved, it fired up Fleet to have their best spell of the match. Three corners in quick succession were defended successfully by the visitors.

Then, with 15 minutes left, Weston was sent through again and this time he produced a brilliant left-foot finish to give the home side hope.

Fleet's Jack King competes in the air. Picture: Sean Aidan FM21792534
Fleet's Jack King competes in the air. Picture: Sean Aidan FM21792534

Hope turned into reality with nine minutes left when Weston’s free-kick from the right was missed in the area and crept inside Killip’s far post to make it 2-2.

There was nearly a dramatic twist in stoppage time but Grimes cleared off the line to deny substitute Jason Kennedy a dramatic winner.

Ebbsfleet: Palmer, Ekpiteta, Grimes, King, Wilson (Obileye 50mins), Morgan, Payne, Sutherland (Adeloye 46mins), Weston, Ugwu (Reid 79mins), Umerah. Subs not used: Lawless, Cordner.

Hartlepool: Killip, Kioso, Raynes, Kerr, Kitching, Featherstone, Mafuta, Holohan (Kennedy 85mins), James, Kabama (Toure 76mins), Donaldson. Subs not used: Cunningham, Hawkes, Muir.

Attendance: 1,086.

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