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FOLKESTONE INVICTA 

ERITH & BELVEDERE 1

(after extra time)

Folkestone Invicta eventually came through Tuesday night’s FA Cup Preliminary Round replay against Erith & Belvedere to set up a home First Qualifying Round tie against Margate on Saturday September 13.

Neil Cugley’s side had to battle and dig in at times and had goalkeeper Tim Roberts to thank for some heroics before it all came good during the first period of extra time.

Ian Draycott scored twice for the home side after the visitors had opened the scoring with another special from the prolific Alfie May.

Goalkeeper Roberts must take a lot of plaudits for Invicta but the night will also be remembered for the cameo role played by the evergreen Paul Booth (pictured below)..

The importance of 37-year-old Booth is clear to everybody and the striker’s absence from the starting eleven with a groin injury was a big blow to the home side. But Booth was to come on in the 82nd minute and set up the 97th minute goal for Draycott that put Invicta ahead before the substitute himself was subbed a minute after the breakthrough.

Booth’s replacement was Jordan Wright who was himself to play a big part in Invicta’s third goal that was put into his own net by left back Ben Wilson.

Having come back from 2-0 down on Sunday to force a replay, Erith had gone ahead for the first time in the tie in the 34th minute when top goalsocrer MAY hit his 12th goal of the season with a spectacular strike from the left hand side of the penalty area that took a slight deflection on its way to the far corner of the net.

Half-hour

The timely equaliser for Invicta came just before half time when DRAYCOTT headed in a 42nd minute Darren Smith corner from the left hand side.

The stalemate continued during the second half and an extra half an hour was required when Invicta came good against a fit Erith & Belvedere side that had continued to go forward.

DRAYCOTT made it 2-1 when he put the ball into the net after striking partner Booth had dispossessed a defender, made room for himself inside the penalty area and unselfishly squared the ball to his left.

Draycott has now overtaken Booth as Invicta’s early season top goalscorer but this is a genuine partnership.

The third goal came in the 101st minute when Jon Pilbeam played a low ball across from the left and WILSON touched the ball into his own net at the far post when under pressure from young Invicta substitute Wright who was making his senior debut.

Invicta had gone into the game with the hard-working Connor Coyne replacing Booth in attack for his first home starting appearance for the club and summer signing Pilbeam came in for his first start in place of the unavailable Dane Luchford on what was the latter’s 30thbirthday.

The visitors had the game’s first chance in the fourth minute when former Redhill striker Richmond Kissi fired over from just outside the penalty area when right back Bill Parkinson played the ball up to May.

For Invicta, a Pilbeam cross from the right was just too high for Coyne in the middle and captain Liam Friend headed at visiting goalkeeper Rilwan Anibaba when Smith sent the ball in from the game’s first corner.

May shot just over on the turn from the left hand side of the penalty area on the quarter of an hour mark and Kissi shot at Roberts two minutes later when Ryan Palmer played the ball in from the right to captain Ryan Johnson.

An 18th minute Pilbeam shot was touched past the post for a corner when Frankie Chappell headed on a Smith free kick and Matt Newman sliced his shot across goal from the left hand side of the penalty area when a Smith free kick fell to him three minutes later.

The dangerous May could not then get enough contact on Wilson’s cross from the left.

The visitors had to make a first half change when Joe Jackson replaced Billy Manners.

There were chances at both ends on the half an hour mark as Draycott headed at Anibaba when Newman lifted the ball in from the edge of the penalty area after a corner from the right eventually fell to him.

Rebound

Roberts - pictured right - then made the first of several vital saves when he denied Kisi after a great run through the middle from the striker and Palmer’s rebound was deflected for the visitors’ first corner of the night.

Invicta goalkeeper Roberts was called into action again a minute later when he saved from Kissi once more after Johnson had got free inside the Invicta penalty area before the goalkeeper cleared and Palmer played the ball back in. Smith then had to clear from close to the line when another corner came into the box.

It was now end-to-end as Invicta had a chance through Pilbeam and Smith drilled the ball wide from the left hand side, with Coyne requiring treatment as he lay on the floor.

But it was Erith that broke the deadlock when Kissi and Johnson worked the ball out to May on the left.

Invicta responded as Newman fired well over and goalkeeper Anibaba came out to push the ball away when Friend’s ball forward threatened to put Pilbeam in.

Draycott then headed the home side level as Erith again conceded just before half time.

Invicta had two chances within a minute of the second half as a Pilbeam shot was blocked after he had run at the visiting defence and Coyne chipped just over from the edge of the penalty area.

But Chappell had to clear at the other end in the 54th minute when Parkinson played a dangerous ball in from the right and a Wilson cross from the left was put over by Palmer from close range four minutes later.

Palmer drilled a shot wide from outside the penalty area after receiving the ball from May on the hour mark and Johnson picked Palmer out on the right four minutes later but a stretching Chappell cleared for Invicta in the middle.

Roberts the made another save to deny May and Lee Craig put the rebound wide.

Invicta threatened when Friend played the ball into the penalty area to Pilbeam in the 67th minute, whilst at the other end a Wilson cross was just too high for substitute Chris Hubbard in the middle.

The Folkestone side had another chance when Chappell met a Smith corner from the left but could not find the target with his header, while May hit a low shot just wide for Erith from the edge of the penalty area when Parkinson played the ball up to substitute Adam Marsh.

Pilbeam and Nat Blanks both had shots blocked for Invicta, while Johnson’s long range shot flew just over the crossbar at the other end.

Roberts came out to avert the danger when Johnson played the ball through to May in the 77th minute after an initial shot had deflected off Friend.

It was still anybody’s game as an Erith defender sliced the ball away when Josh Vincent drilled the ball in from the right a minute later.

Roberts touched the ball over the crossbar one-handed to deny Colin Richmond who had combined with May in the 81st minute.

Invicta then took the gamble of introducing star man Booth for Coyne for his first substitute appearance for the club. Booth soon showed typically good feet inside the penalty area before finding Chappell whose chip from the left hand side was put out for a corner.

Roberts saved a May shot from the right in the 88th minute, whilst Anibaba got down to keep out a Draycott shot a minute later when Vincent played the ball in from the right.

Erith kept on going forward as May played a dangerous 90th minute ball into the penalty area from the right hand side and Chappell had to clear yet again during stoppage time when May was found on the right once more.

Smith fired over for Invicta from the edge of the penalty area during the opening 20 seconds of extra time and the 37-year-old was to become a growing influence during the extra half an hour.

The Booth-Draycott combination then put Invicta ahead.

Stretching

A good Draycott shot on the turn flashed past the post before Invicta increased their lead.

Micheal Everitt found Pilbeam on the right in the 104th minute and the latter crossed for a stretching Draycott to get a touch wide.

Smith gave Draycott an 111th minute chance to complete his hat-trick but the striker unselfishly choose to help the ball on towards Pilbeam, but the ball was intercepted.

Six goals in his opening eight games for the club, though, are statistics that have got Draycott off to a flying start for Invicta.

Roberts then made a comfortable save when Marsh shot from the edge of the penalty area a minute later.

And thus a gripping cup tie concluded with a lot of tired legs and minds on both sides.

There were bookings for Erith & Belvedere’s Manners, Craig and substitute Jackson.

Seventeen-year-old youth team player Reece Palmer was on the Invicta substitutes’ bench for the first time.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Blanks, Friend, Chappell, Newman, Pilbeam (Wraight 118 mins), Smith, Draycott, Coyne (Booth 81 mins, Wright 97 mins), M Everitt. 

Unused subs: Palmer, Fender.

ERITH & BELVEDERE: Anibaba, Parkinson, Wilson, Richmond, Manners, Craig, Pykes, Johnson, May, Kissi (Marsh 51 mins), Palmer (Hubbard 65 mins).  

Unused subs: Humber, Matthews, Minter, Kobia. 

Attendance: 194

Corners: Invicta 9 Erith 6