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ERITH & BELVEDERE 2

FOLKESTONE INVICTA 2

Folkestone Invicta had to settle for a replay in their F. A. Cup Preliminary Round tie away to Erith & Belvedere on Sunday afternoon despite leading 2-0 midway through the second half at Park View Road in Welling.

Goals either side of half time from strikers Paul Booth and Ian Draycott had seemed to put Neil Cugley’s side on course for victory.

But Southern Counties East Football League leaders Erith & Belvedere hit back as Bill Parkinson pulled a goal back and the prolific Alfie May equalised in the 89th minute.

It was May’s 11th goal in seven matches for the home side during August as manager Matt Longhurst’#s new-look side had won its opening six games of the season, scoring 21 goals in the process.

Successive

But Invicta will be disappointed not to have secured a home First Qualifying Round tie against Margate at the first time of asking.

With Michael Yianni and Chris Elliott having played for new clubs Hythe Town and Ramsgate in the FA Cup on Saturday having left Invicta last week, it was perhaps no surprise that the Folkestone club kept an unchanged starting eleven for a fifth successive match.

On a sunny afternoon, it was Invicta who opened the scoring in the 44th minute when one-time Welling striker BOOTH slotted the ball into the net after being picked out by Darren Smith when Nat Blanks had played the ball up the left hand side to Draycott.

It was Booth’s 31st goal in 38 appearances for Invicta.

DRAYCOTT himself made it 2-0 within a minute of the second half when he headed the ball in after striking partner Booth’s deflected header came back off the crossbar when Smith found Dane Luchford on the right.

PARKINSON gave the home side a lifeline in the 70th minute when he headed in a ball in from substitute George Humber on the right hand side when a May shot had been blocked inside the penalty area after a Billy Manners cross from the left.

There was a dramatic late twist when captain Ryan Johnson found substitute Reece Palmer on the right hand side and the latter’s cross was volleyed into the roof of the net by MAY in the middle of the penalty area.

The visitors had earlier attacked in the very first minute when a Smith shot was blocked by Parkinson after Booth had played the ball out to the left hand side when right back Josh Vincent had passed it up to Draycott.

But the home side gave as good as it got as Johnson shot at Invicta goalkeeper rim Roberts from outside the penalty area and Parkinson could not make full contact to his header in the middle when the game’s first corner came over from the left hand side.

May then shot at Roberts from the left in the 22nd minute after combining with striking partner Alfie Marsh.

At the other end, a Draycott shot was blocked by Colin Richmond on the half an hour mark.

The stalemate continued as the in-coming Kurtis Pykes fired wide when Invicta’s Smith got a touch to a Marsh ball in from the right and Ben Wilson drilled a 36th minute shot wide across goal from the left hand side after getting in behind Vincent.

Invicta central defender Frankie Chappell blocked from close to the line in the 41st minute to keep out a May header at the far post when Wilson found Chris Hubbard on the right and Johnson shot wide from the left hand side of the penalty area.

Doubled

Parkinson got across to clear for the home side in the 43rd minute when Booth touched the ball onto Smith inside the penalty area.

But Invicta broke the deadlock a minute later when Smith turned provider for Booth and the striker did the rest.

Draycott’s goal at the start of the second half then doubled Invicta’s lead.

Smith then found Booth again in the 48th minute after a stray clearance but this time the striker’s shot was blocked.

A Hubbard shot from the right was then touched past the post for a corner at the other end five minutes later.

The home side made a double substitution as Humber and Palmer replaced Pykes and Hubbard.

A 63rd minute home corner from the left came out to Palmer whose shot from outside the penalty area was blocked by Invicta captain Liam Friend.

Booth then lifted a shot at home goalkeeper Rilwan Anibaba after dispossessing Richmond and combining with Draycott.

A 69th minute Johnson shot was deflected for a corner when the all fell to him after May had played the ball in to Palmer and Vincent cleared when the subsequent set piece fell to Palmer.

But Erith’s hopes were raised a minute later with Parkinson’s goal.

Invicta had a chance to restore their two goal advantage a couple of minutes later when Draycott shot wide after goalkeeper Anibaba had come out to clear from Luchford and left his goal unguarded.

The visitor’s substitutions saw Connor Coyne replace Booth and Jon Pilbeam come on for Luchford.

But the home side was not pressing for an equaliser as a Humber shot inside the penalty area was blocked when Richmond found Palmer on the right in the 81st minute.

Johnson then played a good ball out to Palmer on the right three minutes later but Chappell headed the ball in away.

Manners played the ball out of defence to find Johnson in space in the 87th minute and the midfielder’s well-struck shot from outside the penalty area had Roberts back-peddling but the goalkeeper saved.

Stoppage

The home side were rewarded for their never-say-die attitude with the late equaliser from a break after an Invicta free kick at the other end when Matt Newman played the ball out to substitute Coyne on the left.

The visitors did have a stoppage time chance to win the game when Blanks’ ball forward put Pilbeam clear but goalkeeper Anibaba came out to save and Smith’s rebound was blocked.

Invicta had come back from 2-0 down at half time to beat Sittingbourne 3-2 in their previous match but this time were left frustrated.

They live to fight another day, though, unlike two years ago when they went out 3-2 away to Badshot Lea having led 2-0 into the second half in similar circumstances.

17-year-old goalkeeper George Fender was on the Invicta substitutes’ bench for the first time.

ERITH & BELVEDERE: Anibaba, Parkinson, Wilson, Richmond, Manners, Craig, Pykes (Humber 57 mins), Johnson, May, Marsh (Kissi 45 mins), Hubbard (Palmer 57 mins).  Unused subs: Jackson, Matthews, Minter, Kobia. 

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Blanks, Friend, Chappell, Newman, Luchford (Pilbeam 73 mins), Smith, Draycott, Booth (Coyne 70 mins), M Everitt.  Unused subs: Edge, Wright, Fender, Wraight.

Attendance: 183.

Corners: Erith 4 Folkestone Invicta 1