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Ebbsfleet United 0 Hemel Hempstead Town 0 match report: National League South leaders drop points

National League South leaders Ebbsfleet failed to score at home for just the second time this season on Saturday.

The Fleet were held to a goalless draw by a well-organised Hemel Hempstead outfit.

Ebbsfleet's Josh Wright goes past Hemel's Bayley Brown on Saturday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Ebbsfleet's Josh Wright goes past Hemel's Bayley Brown on Saturday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

Ebbsfleet made four changes from the side that drew at Farnborough on Tuesday night with Joe Martin, Omari Sterling-James, Toby Edser and Josh Wright replacing Sido Jombati, Darren McQueen, Billy Clifford and Franklin Domi.

There was an early scare for Hemel when Luke O’Neill’s cross flashed ahead of both Dominic Poleon and Rakish Bingham.

But thereafter Hemel defended well and stifled the Fleet’s frontline.

It was past the half-hour by the time a Edser free-kick fell to the feet of 28-goal Poleon at the far post but former Dartford keeper Craig King was out smartly to keep his effort out at point-blank range.

Then Edser and Martin were involved in a flowing move around the edge of the area that set up Greg Cundle, but his low shot was straight at King.

Hemel’s best chance came on the stroke of half-time but his 20-yard shot was well saved by keeper Mark Cousins.

The main talking points of the half were provided by the below-par officiating of referee Matt Scholes. He pulled Hemel up for stealing distance at a throw-in but then let them have another go, infuriated the hosts by turning down Sterling-James’ penalty shout, and then failed to spot Montel McKenzie’s out of control follow through as he cleared the ball, needlessly taking out Wright in the process.

Poleon fluffed his lines six yards out early in the second half after good work down the right by Sterling-James.

King then denied Edser with his legs but Ebbsfleet, for all their possession, were finding chances hard to create against a well-organised Hemel defence – one of the best to visit Stonebridge Road this term.

Wright’s goalbound shot with 18 minutes left was headed behind for a corner before substitute Domi made space on the edge of the area but his 20-yard right-foot shot came back off the crossbar with King beaten.

Then Bingham headed straight at keeper King from Domi’s cross as Ebbsfleet were camped around the edge of the Hemel penalty area.

Ebbsfleet: Cousins, O’Neill, Hollis, Martin (Domi 46mins), Sterling-James, N’Guessan, Edser (Romain 89mins), Wright (Clifford 76mins), Cundle, Bingham, Poleon. Subs not used: Jombati, McQueen.

Hemel: King, McKenzie, J Williams (Eleftheriou 81mins), Hill, Westbrook, Ajayi, G Williams (Mukendi 83mins), Brown, Holness, Owusu (Hughes 68mins), Castiglione. Subs not used: Morgan-Griffiths, Roberts.

Referee: Matt Scholes.

Attendance: 1,647.

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