Whitehawk have slipped out of the play-offs for the first time since August after a narrow defeat against league leaders Ebbsfleet United.
Matt Godden got the game’s decisive goal with fifteen minutes to go as Fleet won 1-0 at the Enclosed Ground, and in doing so meant the Hawks are without a home win in the league since October 3.
The Hawks started the game well, with Sam Deering’s cross picking out Jake Robinson at the near post, whose clever flick almost paid off, with an outstretched Brandon Hall turning the ball onto the bar and over. From the resulting corner, Kenny Clark did well to deny Jordan Rose a shot on goal, with the defender driving the ball goalbound from inside ten yards.
However, Ebbsfleet were also looking dangerous going forward, with Jordan Parkes whipping in a free kick from the left and picked out an unmarked Anthony Acheampong, but Craig Ross produced an outstanding save from point blank range to turn the header away from goal.
Danny Mills then tested Hall with a drive after the Fleet defence made a mess of clearing Nick Arnold’s cross, before David Martin’s cross picked out Mills, but his header went straight at the keeper.
Ebbsfleet started the second half well, and had a great chance to take the lead after the hour. Anthony Cook, who had been on for no more than a few minutes, fell down after minimal, if any, contact with Rose and referee Justin Amey pointed to the spot, much to the disbelief of the Hawks players.
Danny Kedwell stepped up, but only to be denied by a fantastic save from Ross, who dived to his right and held on to the striker’s low drive.
As the game entered the final twenty minutes, sub Scott Neilson drove the ball forward for the Hawks, before finding Jake Robinson inside the area, but his effort looped over the bar.
With 73 minutes gone, Godden was allowed to run on to a ball through and was all of a sudden through on goal, but one on one with Ross dragged his effort wide of the post.
The Hawks defence ought to have learnt from that passage of play, but were undone by a carbon copy just moments later, but this time with a different result.
Godden beat the offside flag to latch onto a ball over the top, before lifting the ball over the advancing Ross. The ball bounced back off the post initially, but Godden was the only one anticipating a rebound and was allowed a tap in.
The goal seemed to ignite the Hawks, and the hosts came close to drawing level in the closing stages.
First, Martin chipped the ball in from the left and picked out Rose, who had moved from a defender to a striker in the final minutes. He got his head on the ball, but Hall was able to turn it behind for a corner.
From that corner, the hero at Dagenham came even closer. Martin’s delivery picked out Rose at the far post, whose header back across goal beat everyone, including Hall, but only to rebound back off the post and away.
The defeat sees the Hawks slip to seventh, two points behind Gosport Borough who occupy the final play-off spot. Oxford City are also two points ahead, but the Hawks have an important game in hand on Justin Merritt’s side.