For the third time already this season, Whitehawk will have to make do with a point having been 2-0 up after an entertaining game at Ebbsfleet United.
In a great example of a game of two halves, the Hawks deservedly lead at the break through David Ijaha and Sam Deering, with Deering also seeing a penalty saved by Brandon Hall.
However, the Fleet looked to be a different side after the break, with Daryl McMahon making a double substitution at the break and they earned a point after substitutes Matt Godden and Danny Haynes got on the scoresheet in the second half.
Steve King said after the game: “We dropped off too deep as a group. When we play with a high intensity further up the pitch, teams struggle to deal with us as we proved in the first half.
“But that’s three times in a row now that we’ve been 2-0 up and teams have come back. We can score for fun but, psychologically, they need to do better to control the game and time management.
“We allowed them to stamp themselves on the game and that was disappointing for me.”
Bryan Van Den Bogaert started in defence for the Hawks after his arrival from Crawley Town, whilst Shamir Fenelon – signed on loan from the Reds – started on the bench.
In some heated early exchanges, there was little to choose between the sides – until the Hawks turned the screw, with handball appeals turned away by referee Elliott Kaye – who wasn’t the most popular throughout the afternoon.
The visitors then eventually were awarded a penalty after confusion between the referee and his linesman. Nick Arnold burst into the penalty area, before being scythed down by Joe Howe – but after the referee said no, the linesman flagged for a foul. After consulting his assistant, Kaye pointed to the spot. Sam Deering stepped up, but his drive to Hall’s left was brilliantly turned around the post by the diving keeper.
However, it was from the resulting corner that the Hawks went ahead with 21 minutes on the clock. Deering’s corner failed to be cleared by the home defence, and the ball eventually fell to the feet of Ijaha and from close range he fired into the roof of the net.
Juan Cruz Gotta then headed narrowly over the top, before Sergio Torres played in Deering, but his effort from 20 yards dipped just over the bar.
The Hawks then went 2-0 up with 36 minutes gone. David Ijaha intercepted Ebbsfleet’s short corner, and within three passes the ball was in the net. Ijaha played the ball out to Scott Neilson, who then played through Torres, and his great ball across found Deering in acres of space and his thunderbolt of a strike gave Hall on chance as the ball found the top corner – finishing off a great counter attack.
Ebbsfleet made two changes at the break, and came out with intent after Danny Kedwell forced Craig Ross into a smart save before Haynes somehow headed over the bar from close range.
And the hosts halved the deficit with nine minutes gone in the second period when Godden made the most of Whitehawk losing possession to fire low past Ross and into the far corner.
Godden then should have done better after heading well wide from inside six yards, before Ross did brilliantly to save from Kedwell.
However, as the half wore on, it looked inevitable that the hosts would find an equaliser, and they did just that with twelve minutes to go. Godden was given too much space on the left, and he cut the ball back to Haynes who from twelve yards slammed the ball in.
And there was time for both sides to go close to winning the game. David Ijaha worked his way to the edge of the area, but his strike flew narrowly wide of the top corner with Hall beaten, before Ross denied Godden in stoppage time.
Whilst most Whitehawk fans would have been happy with a point prior to kick off, some will be left frustrated as they failed to hold on to their first half lead.
Fleet: Hall, Fish, Howe, Lewis, Clark, Bonner ©, Rance, Parkes (Godden 45), Kedwell (Cunnington 73), Kissock (Haynes 45), Willmott. Subs: Acheampong, Miles. Cautions: Howe, Cunnington.
Hawks: Ross, Arnold, Sessegnon, Ijaha, Gotta, Van Dan Bogaert, Deering, Torres ©, Neilson (Fenelon 67), Mills (Stevens 75), Mendy (Martin 61). Subs: Ngamvoulou, Gayler. Cautions: Ijaha, Deering, Martin.
Shots: EBB 9-9 WHK, Shots On Target: EBB 6-4 WHK, Corners: EBB 10-6 WHK, Fouls Committed: EBB 11-15 WHK, Offside: EBB 4-1 WHK, Bookings: EBB 2-3 WHK, Red Cards: EBB 0-0 WHK.
Match report by Anthony Scott
Photos by David Hunt