Parkes produces the magic as Tudors make a point at Ebbsfleet United

Hemel Town salvaged a point against Ebbsfleet. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard
Hemel Town salvaged a point against Ebbsfleet. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard

Hemel Hempstead Town returned home with a point from their trip to Conference South big spenders Ebbsfleet United on Saturday afternoon.

The Tudors took the lead early on through Oliver Hawkins, but goals from Ebbsfleet duo Danny Kedwell and Matt Godden turned the game on its head before half-time.

Dennis Oli provided the assist for Hemel's opening goal. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard

Dennis Oli provided the assist for Hemel's opening goal. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard

Hemel were not to be denied a point, though, and captain fantastic Jordan Parkes fired home an exquisite free-kick to ensure it was honours even at Stonebridge Road.

There was a bumper crowd of more than 1,600 for the clash between the two playoff rivals, but the home faithful were silenced after just four minutes when Dennis Oli crossed for the unmarked Hawkins to head home over keeper over Preston Edwards.

The hosts replied strongly, though, and were almost back on level terms when Tudors keeper Laurie Walker nearly allowed Kedwell’s fierce strike to squirm into the net.

Ebbsfleet knew that the game was a must-win in their quest for a playoff spot, and it was that man Kedwell who levelled the scores after 12 minutes when he converted Sean Shields’ low cross from close range.

Kedwell could have had a second goal soon afterwards when Walker raced out of his box to head a long ball clear, leaving the former AFC Wimbledon man to launch an audacious volley from 40 yards narrowly past the post.

Godden was next to come close for the hosts when he blazed over after a mistake from Moussa Diarra, while Hawkins nodded a cross wide at the other end.

The game was wide open, but it was Ebbsfleet who took the lead shortly before half-time when Hemel’s new signing Jordan Brown appeared to have been fouled, allowing Godden to break past Diarra and slot the ball home.

Danger man Kedwell was forced off injured at half-time, and Hemel drew things level shortly after the interval as Parkes produced a trademark free-kick into the top corner following a foul on Hawkins.

Adam Cunnington came close to matching the feat at the other end, but his 30-yard free-kick struck the crossbar from 30 yards, before another went just wide of the post.

Both teams had chances to snatch the win as the clock ticked down, but in the end a draw was a fair result between the two evenly-matched sides.

Ebbsfleet: Edwards, Fish, Langmead, Bonner, Jefford, S Lewis, T Lewis, Shields (Osborn 76mins), Godden (Gower 80mins), Kedwell (Rance 46mins), Cunnington. Subs not used: Pooley, Acheampong.

Hemel Hempstead Town: Walker, King, Brown (Banton 46mins), Parkes, Hyam, Diarra, Oli, Harriott (Connolly 87mins), Hawkins, Asafu-Adjaye, Potton (Johnson 76mins). Subs not used: Kabamba, Head.

Attendance: 1,636.