Pools threw away a two-goal lead to allow ten-man Ebbsfleet
United to come back to clinch a share of the spoils on a frustrating afternoon
Dave Challinor's men looked on course for victory when Gavan
Holohan netted twice during a dominant first half and Pools' case was furtherstrengthened when Fleet front man Josh Umerah was sent-off just before the break.
However, Myles Weston pulled one back on 72 minutes and then
scored again nine minutes from time to complete an unlikely recovery from thehosts.
Dave Challinor opted to keep the same line-up which began
the win at Yeovil Town and they fought out a scrappy opening to the encounterat The Kuflink Stadium.
A bobbly playing surface made things difficult for both
sides but Nicky Featherstone came close to opening the scoring when his drivefrom the edge of the box was deflected wide of the target.
A lovely corner routine provided Holohan with the chance to
net from the edge of the box but the midfield star's effort was saved comfortablyby the keeper, Harry Palmer.
Ebbsfleet's best chance arrived on 18 minutes when clever
play on the right of the area but his low drive was well blocked by Ben Killipwith his feet.
Fraser Kerr just couldn't get enough on Featherstone's
inswinging free-kick to find the goal, while Luke James stung the side-nettingwith a drive as Pools began to dominate as the half developed.
And they got their rewards just after the half-hour when
Holohan cleverly side-stepped a defender twenty yards out and sent a left-footedfinish across the keeper and in to the bottom right corner of the net.
The hosts responded with a rare foray forward and when the
ball dropped for Albie Morgan he struck a low drive just past the post withKillip rooted to the spot.
However, Pools were well on top and doubled their lead three
minutes before the break when James drove past a defender down the right and
lifted a cross in to the middle where Holohan was waiting to nod in his secondgoal of the afternoon.
The contest swung even further in Pools' favour just before the
break when Umerah tangled with Michael Raynes and the referee immediatelybrandished a red card for the Fleet forward.
Pools began the second half in control and within two
minutes Holohan had a glorious chance to seal his hat-trick. James turned and
struck a low shot on goal which was parried by Palmer and Holohan reactedquickest only to fire over the bar.
Gus Mafuta was next to try his luck as he shot over from
twenty yards on the end of another flowing move, while a well-worked corner set
up Featherstone minutes later but the midfielder's curling shot was brilliantlyturned round the post by Palmer.
The hosts were struggling to get a foothold as the game
moved in to the final twenty minutes though a yellow card for Featherstone when
some home supporters felt he should have seen red helped bring the crowd backto life.
They were further encouraged on 72 minutes when former Pools
man Tomi Adeloye – on as a half-time substitute – slipped a ball through for
Weston and he ran through on goal before clipping a clinical finish over Killipto make it 2-1.
Suddenly, the calmness of the first hour began to evaporate
and the home side seized on those nerves to continue to pile forward and putmore pressure on Challinor's men.
The heartbreak arrived nine minutes from time when Weston's
flung a free-kick in to the box from thirty yards and it missed everyone, deceivedKillip and bounced beyond him and in to the corner of the net.
There could have been more drama right at the end of
stoppage time when Mafuta's charged-down shot ricocheted across the area to
substitute Jason Kennedy but his effort was somehow cleared off the line by anEbbsfleet defender and it finished level.
Full Time: Ebbsfleet United 2 Pools 2
Ebbsfleet United: Palmer, Wilson (Obileye 50), Ekpiteta, King, Grimes, Weston, Payne, Morgan, Sutherland (Adeloye 46), Ugwu (Reid 78), Umerah.
Subs not used: Lawless, Cordner.
Booked: Payne, Grimes.
Pools: Killip, Kioso, Kerr, Raynes, Kitching, Mafuta, Featherstone, Holohan (Kennedy 84), Donaldson, James, Kabamba (Toure 76).
Subs not used: Cunningham, Hawkes, Muir.
Booked: Featherstone, Donaldson.