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Hemel Hempstead Town 1 Ebbsfleet United 1 match report

By Steve Tervet

Ebbsfleet had to settle for a draw at Hemel Hempstead on Saturday.

They took the lead in the first half thanks to a terrific strike from new signing James Ball.

But the National League South side got themselves back on terms after the break and 1-1 was probably a fair result.

Ebbsfleet manager Garry Hill Picture: Phil Lee
Ebbsfleet manager Garry Hill Picture: Phil Lee

Garry Hill tried a couple of players in different positions, with Alex Lawless at right-back while Ayo Obileye dropped back to centre-half.

Trialists Tomi Adeloye and Alfie Egan both started against a Hemel side which included former Hythe and Gillingham defender Mitch Dickenson.

Tyrone Sterling volleyed wide when Fleet failed to clear an early corner and the visitors were awarded a free-kick inside the Hemel box when keeper Sam Beasant handled a backpass but Ball's tame strike was easily blocked by the wall.

A long shot from Gozie Ugwu was so wide it almost went out for a throw-in as the first quarter of the game meandered by without much quality.

Egan was industrious in central midfield but Adeloye didn't get much change out of Dickenson and Connor Essam in the Hemel backline.

Alex Wall's powerful low shot forced Nathan Ashmore to make a good save with his foot and Craig Braham-Barrett had an effort deflect into the side netting after latching onto Jacques Kpohomouh's diagonal ball.

Obileye, up for a corner, went close for Ebbsfleet with a shot from a narrow angle and he then played a key role in the opening goal seven minutes before half-time.

Obileye was too strong for his marker when Ashmore launched a long kick into the Hemel box and the knockdown ran for Ball, who lashed a fine strike high beyond Beasant.

At the other end, Ashmore flew high to his left to keep Braham-Barrett's curling shot out of the top corner.

Fleet fielded a different back five in the second half, including goalkeeper Harry Palmer, while youngster Zach Dainkeh was given 45 minutes to show what he could do in midfield.

Ugwu did well to spin and deliver a low cross from the right but Adeloye, on the stretch, couldn't convert inside the six-yard box.

Sean Shields stole the ball midway inside the Hemel half and slipped a pass left to Ugwu but his low shot was straight at substitute keeper Danny Boness.

It was a second half of few chances as both managers rang the changes but Hemel equalised 14 minutes from time when Liam Nash picked out the bottom corner from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

Ebbsfleet's Tahjae Anderson led a break with two team-mates in support but chose to go alone and saw his shot charged down.

Wall forced a good low save from Palmer and the rebound was hacked clear by Ball, one of just two Fleet players to complete 90 minutes.

A snatched effort from Ugwu flew well wide at the other end but neither side could find a late winner.

Hemel: Beasant, Kpohomouh, Braham-Barrett, Howell, Essam, Dickenson, Popo, Howells, Sterling, Trialist, Galliford. Subs: Sundire, Wall, Nash, Perry, Boness, Midson.

Ebbsfleet: Ashmore (Palmer 46mins), Lawless (Wilson 46mins), Obileye (King 46mins), Grimes (Dainkeh 46mins), Thomas (Shields 46mins), Weston (Zidane 72mins), Egan (Magri 72mins), Ball, Goddard (Anderson 72mins), Adeloye (Trialist 58mins), Ugwu.

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