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Hawks V Ebbsfleet United

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Havant and Waterlooville 3-3 Ebbsfleet United
Rutherford 22', 44', McNamara 45+3' Kedwell 46', Cheek 51', Magri 57'

By Henry Deacon (@H_Deaconmedia)

Alfie Rutherford's first half double was cancelled out as Ebbsfleet United score three goals in the first 11 minutes of the second half to draw 3-3 from 3-0 down.

The Hawks looked as if they could do no wrong in the first half and dominated the opening 45 minutes with some decent play with a brace from Alfie Rutherford and a Danny McNamara goal with the last kick of the half saw the Hawks just 45 minutes away from a big victory.

However, Gary Hill's side responded well at the start of the second half and hit a purple patch which would have saw most teams in the league waving the white flag. Danny Kedwell struck just seconds after the restart before strikes from Michael Cheek and Danny Kedwell saw the Fleet draw level in 11 second half minutes.

The result keeps the Hawks in 21st, gaining an extra point on Aldershot Town after their late defeat to Dover, with Monday being crucial as far as securing fourth from bottom in the standings. 

Four changes for Lee Bradbury from the team that were narrowly edged out at Solihull last weekend. Most were enforced due to injuries to seven first team players with Ryan Woodford, Wes Fogden, Theo Lewis and Chris Paul coming in for starts. 

It was the Fleet which created the first few opportunities of the game with Michael Cheek and Dean Rance having efforts on goal within moments of each other but neither threatened Laurence Bilboe in the Havant goal.

A quarter of an hour in and they had the first tangiable chance of the game when Cheek had a go from inside his penalty area, but two big hands from Laurence Bilboe saw the threat sniffed out. 

A few minutes later Wes Fogden had a couple of opportunities in quick succession. First, he had a ball played into him from Theo Lewis on the edge of the box which was cleared by Drury before the ex Bournemouth man could bring the ball down before seconds later having an effort cleared by Winfield after being played in by Alfie Rutherford. 

From the resulting corner kick the Hawks got their breakthrough when Ryan Woodford's header strikes the post, Rutherford was in the right place at the right time to fire home the rebound to silence the away contingent which made their way down from Kent in their droves. 

This seemed to settle the Hawks down, and just three minutes later Theo Lewis narrowly volleyed the ball over the bar from the edge of the box for a second.

However, up the other end Ebbsfleet had a contender for miss of the season when the ball was played into the area and into Michael Cheek, who with an empty net to aim for manages to hit the post before the ball went just over. 

After a quiet passage of play, the Hawks found a second wind just minutes before the end of the half when Alfie Rutherford decided to go for a curling effort from an acute angle on the edge of the area, but would only see his effort go just wide of target.

But, he would have better luck just moments later when he broke free of the Ebbsfleet defence before racing his way into the penalty area where he then slotted the ball cooly past Nathan Ashmore to make it 2-0 to the Hawks.

It would get better for Lee Bradbury's side just before the break when Dan McNamara got on the end of a loose ball before sprinting his way into the area and lobbing the helpless Ebbsfleet 'keeper to make it 3-0 to the Hawks. It was the perfect half.

HALF-TIME: Havant and Waterlooville 3-0 Ebbsfleet United

Ebbsfleet knew that they had to come out and play in the next 45 minutes knowing failure to pick up anything would be disaterous in their hopes of reaching The National League play-offs.

And they certainly showed those qualities that have got them into 8th position in the second period, providing a purple patch which very few sides could have kept up with. 

It started just seconds after the interval when Kedwell picked up the ball inside the penalty area from six yards out before hammering the ball past Bilboe and a crowd of players. 

Then four minutes later Garry Hill's side pulled it back to within a goal when Michael Cheek rounded the Hawks defence before placing the ball past Laurence Bilboe again.

And the turnaround was complete in 11 second half minutes when Sam Magri smashed the ball home from close range. 

After a blistering start which left everyone inside Westleigh Park shellshocked, the game fizzled out again and it seemed the Hawks started to get themselves back into it. 

With a quarter of an hour left to play Alfie Rutherford teed the ball into the path of Danny McNamara who from the edge of the penalty area curled the ball just over the bar. 

Eight minutes from time Joe Quigley had an effort from the edge of the penalty area but a big deflection saw the ball into the arms of Ashmore in the Ebbsfleet goal. 

With three minutes of normal time remaining, the Fleet went for the jugular with Bagasan Graham going for goal from outside the area with his effort hitting the side netting. 

And the final chance of the game fell the Hawks' way in the 93rd minute when Danny McNamara went for goal from just outside the penalty area going just behind the post. 

FULL-TIME: Havant and Waterlooville 3-3 Ebbsfleet United

Obvious dissapointment for the Hawks after squandering a 3-0 lead at Half time but a positive first half performance and a good rally at the end will see them go into the Aldershot game on Monday with fourth from bottom in the league table firmly in their own hands and with a positive point against a top ten side under their belts. 

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