It is game on ahead of the Second Leg of this Play Off Semi Final after Whitehawk scored a late goal to give them hope against Ebbsfleet United.
The Fleet looked to be taking a two goal lead to Stonebridge Road on Sunday after goals from Stuart Lewis and Danny Kedwell, but Danny Mills struck late on to give the Hawks a hope.
Ebbsfleet, who had topped the table for pretty much the whole season until they were pipped to the title by Sutton, were made to look ordinary in the early stages, with the Hawks starting well.
Nick Arnold whipped in a free kick from the left and picked out David Martin, but he could only head over when unmarked in the visitors’ penalty area, before Jake Robinson’s ambitious effort was saved by Nathan Ashmore.
However, as the half wore on, Ebbsfleet came into the game. Dean Pooley’s ball in picked out an unmarked Matthew Godden, who should have done better than heading the ball over the bar before the Fleet number 10 dragged his shot wide from twelve yards.
The warning signs were there, and the breakthrough duly followed on the half hour mark. Godden played the ball out to Kedwell on the right, who then fired the ball across to Lewis inside the area, whose first time effort went in off the inside of the post.
Ebbsfleet came close to going into half time two goals to the good, as Godden burst forward down the left had side before finding Lewis, but his effort from close range was blocked by a mixture of Chris M’Boungou and Craig Ross.
Ross then did well to save from Anthony Cook early in the second half, before Godden almost headed into his own net from Arnold’s corner at the other end, but his glancing header dipped onto the roof of the net.
Whitehawk continued to threaten, with Lewis doing well to deflect a cross bound for a Hawks attacker behind for a corner before Sergio Torres fired off target from twenty yards.
Ashmore was then called into action with twenty minutes to go, first saving well from an ambitious Arnold free-kick, before the Hawks’ number seven pounced on a loose ball before his strike from twenty yards beat the keeper, but struck the outside of the post and went wide.
Despite that, it was Ebbsfleet who would grab the next goal, and go 2-0 ahead in disappointing style. Kedwell struck a free-kick 20 yards out, and the ball flew through a wall that broke apart to give Ross no chance.
Whitehawk then looked for a response, and it came eight minutes from time. David Ijaha found Torres, whose low drive was saved by Ashmore, but only for Mills to pounce on the loose ball and fire the ball in from a tight angle.
The Hawks remained camped inside the visitors’ half, and came close to drawing level late on. Arnold picked out Robinson at the near post with a cross, but off balance, the striker fired wide of the near post.
As the Hawks kept pressing forward, Fleet almost made it 3-1 on the break in stoppage time. Kedwell ran onto a long ball before finding an unmarked Charlie Sheringham, but Ross did well to save at the feet of the substitute as he tried to take it past the advancing keeper.
The Hawks would be disappointed to have lost, but the story of their season has been to defy the odds, and that is something that will have to happen again on Sunday if they are to progress to the play-off final. Believe.
Shots: WHK 9-9 EBU, Shots On Target: WHK 4-4 EBU, Corners: WHK 5-1 EBU, Fouls Committed: WHK 11-10 EBU, Offside: WHK 4-10 EBU, Bookings: WHK 3-3 EBU, Red Cards: WHK 0-0 EBU.
Hawks: Ross, Graham (Sessegnon 79), Rents, M’Boungou, Rose, Mendy (Ijaha 71), Arnold, Torres ©, Robinson, Mills, Martin. Subs: Fraser, Gargan, Gotta. Bookings: Graham, Mendy, Torres.
Fleet: Ashmore, Pooley, Howe, Lewis, Acheampong, Clark, Deering, Rance, Kedwell, Godden (Sheringham 86), Cook. Subs: Bonner, Parkes, Shields, Miles (GK). Bookings: Rance, Godden, Cook.
Attendance: 1, 055; Goals: Mills 82’; Lewis 29’, Kedwell 72’; Referee: Andrew Laver
By Anthony Scott