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Wembley star Stanford salvages a point for the leaders but Lilywhites still search for first Ryman win over their Kent promotion rivals Invicta

FAVERSHAM TOWN 2

FOLKESTONE INVICTA 2

Fourth-placed Invicta had to settle for a point away to Ryman League Division One South leaders Faversham at Salter’s Lane despite twice taking the lead on Saturday afternoon.

Substitute Josh Stanford rescued a point for the home side with a spectacular 78th minute strike after Paul Booth had given Invicta the lead from the penalty spot following a handball decision.

Leading scorer Ian Draycott had earlier opened the scoring for the visitors before Sam Bewick brought Faversham level.

This was a repeat of last season’s corresponding 2-2 draw – also played in November - when Nat Blanks had scored a long range late equaliser for Invicta – and leaves Ray Turner’s Faversham still searching for their first Ryman League win over the Folkestone side.

The result will also have probably gone down well with title favourites Burgess Hill Town who themselves came back from being 2-0 down with 25 minutes to go to beat Leatherhead 3-2 in the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy on Saturday, after knocking Invicta out in the previous round.

Neil Cugley’s Folkestone side looked as though they had the bit between their teeth here as they recognised the importance of this fixture a week after losing their unbeaten home record against Three Bridges.

Invicta were the better side at the start of each half before Faversham responded with good spells of their own following each of their spectacular equalising goals.

Folkestone had Jordan Wright back in for Ronnie Dolan in the only change to the starting 11 that had played Three Bridges.

Faversham themselves had Maidstone United teenager Charley Robertson making his debut on loan after a previous somewhat unhappy loan spell at Invicta earlier in the season.

The unseasonal sun was an unlikely factor in what was a lively start to the game.

Booth led an Invicta counter-attack on eight minutes and played the ball up to strike partner Draycott who was denied by a sliding tackle from home skipper John Scarborough with some visiting supporters claiming a penalty.

Jon Pilbeam then did well to get the ball in from the right hand side but it was put out for a 13th minute corner.

Josh Vincent got forward in the 22nd minute but failed to trouble goalkeeper Simon Overland as he fired over after Micheal Everitt and Booth worked the ball out to the right.

But Invicta went ahead when Robertson lost possession in midfield and Matt Newman played the ball through for DRAYCOTT to slot the ball past the advancing Overland.

It was Draycott’s 20th goal in 28 appearances since joining Invicta from promoted Leatherhead last summer.

Invicta threatened again in the 32nd minute when an Ashley Brown clearance cannoned off his team-mate Jamie Maxted to Pilbeam and the latter’s cross came off goalscorer Draycott for a goal-kick.

Faversham were level in the 35th minute when David Botterill’s pass found a gap between trusted Invicta central defenders Frankie Chappell and Liam Friend to allow BEWICK to guide a fine volley into the top corner of Tim Roberts’ net.

The equaliser lifted the home side and keeper Roberts had to go full length to keep out get to a well-struck Wayne Wilson free kick after Robertson had gone down somewhat easily on the edge of the penalty area.

Chappell then had to get back to avert the danger a minute later when one-time Folkestone player Dean Grant produced a touch of skill after a good throughball from Bewick in a move started by the long-serving Botterill.

Target man Jack Harris then curled a shot over from the edge of the 18-yard box in a move involving Bewick and Robertson.

But Invicta had a chance to restore their lead right on half time when Blanks found Draycott who slid the ball through to Pilbeam but Overland came out to save the wideman’s fairly tame attempt.

On 51 minutes the ball was played through to Draycott whose shot was saved for a corner as the referee over-ruled an assistant’s flag for offside.

Midfielder Everitt headed over Wright’s subsequent corner from the right.

The penalty decision soon followed as Booth’s shot struck central defender Ashley Brown and BOOTH’s well-struck spot kick evaded Overland.

Booth and Draycott had both gone three games without a goal – unusual for this pair – but were now both back on the score-sheet when in a game that mattered.

Invicta sensed victory as a Blanks cross from the left stayed in play and was hurriedly had cleared at the far post.

Booth and Draycott then combined again again and both found themselves on the receiving end of heavy challenges before play was pulled back for the initial foul on Booth.

Booth himself who took the free kick but Overland held.on easily enough.

Faversham had been upset by the penalty decision and left back Maxted was booked for dissent in the 58th minute during an untidy period of the game that also saw Invicta’s Newman and Vincent booked, as well as Faversham’s Wilson.

Faversham brought substitute Stanford on after he had been unable to start due to a hamstring injury reportedly brought on by a back problem.

Stanford had scored for Tunbridge Wells in their 2-1 2013 FA Vase Final defeat by Spennymoor Town at Wembley when Faversham striker Harris and Invicta’s Pilbeam were both team-mates at the Culverden club.

Stanford .also appeared for Gillingham in Invicta captain Friend’s testimonial match at The Fullicks Stadium back in July.

And it was STANFORD who made it 2-2 here with a sweet strike that Roberts got a hand to but couldn’t prevent from reaching the far corner of the net.

The ball had struck a Faversham hand before falling to Stanford which may have alleviated some of the home side’s pain over the earlier penalty decision.

Stanford’s contribution was to prove something of a cameo role as the substitute himself had to be replaced by Luke Harvey late in the game.

Harvey was making his farewell appearance for Faversham before joining Hythe Town but the popular home striker was not to score the fairytale late winner that he had no doubt dreamt about.

Stanford’s goal raised Faversham’s spirits once again as both sides went in search of a late winner in a very open game.

Stanford hit a low 81st minute shot from the edge of the penalty area but this time he couldn’t find the power to beat Roberts after a move involving captain Scarborough, Bewick and Harris.

The bearded Vincent (pkctured left) burst forward for Invicta four minutes later but shot over the bar after Booth had touched on Blanks throw-in from the left and Draycott and substitute Ronnie Dolan worked the ball across to the advancing fullback.

Blanks received the ball from Dolan in the 90th minute and threaded it through to Wright but the 20-year-old midfielder put too much power onto his delivery across goal from the left.

So it was honours even then on this occasion,

But no-one could sensibly rule out the possibility of these two sides meeting again in the play-offs at the end of the season.

FAVERSHAM TOWN: Overland, Sherlock, Maxted, Bewick (Oliver 69), Brown, Scarborough, Robertson (Stanford 64, Harvey 86), Wilson, Harris, Grant, Botterill.

Subs not used: :Monger, Russo.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Blanks, Friend, Chappell, Newman, Wright, Pilbeam (Dolan 68), Draycott, Booth, Everitt

Subs not used:  Fedor, Palmer, Edge, Fender

Attendance: 317.

Corners: Faversham 6 Invicta 8