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Pilbeam's pace again tears Kent rivals apart but Invicta have to settle for first ever point at Winch's Field rather than victory as Bay escape defeat thanks to a hotly-disputed offside decision  

er HERNE BAY 2

FOLKESTONE INVICTA 2

Folkestone Invicta had to settle for a point as Jon Pilbeam opened and closed the scoring in a lively 2-2 draw against Herne Bay on Saturday afternoon.

The fixture had beaten the weather on a heavy but totally playable surface at Winch’s Field where Folkestone are still yet to record a league victory since Bay were promoted to the Ryman League as Kent League champions ahead of the 2012-13 season.

Invicta had to make two enforced changes as both Frankie Chappell and Micheal Everitt were unavailable.

The versatile James Everitt came in for his first start since the final weekend of last season at Guernsey as he partnered captain Liam Friend at the heart of the Invicta defence and Pilbeam came back into the starting 11 for the first time since the home match against Whitstable Town some five weeks ago.

The first chance of the game fell to the home side as a second minute Michael Turner cross was directed towards experienced striker Mark Lovell but Invicta keeper Tim Roberts claimed possession fairly comfortably.

A cross from the left hand side was then met by Lovell but Roberts got down to save well.

And it was Invicta who opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Richard Atkins played the ball wide in a move started by Jordan Wright and PILBEAM burst clear to drill a low shot into the far corner of the net.

The visitors were now on top as Ian Draycott found strike partner Atkins but Bay skipper Liam Quinn cut out the danger.

Outside

Draycott beat Quinn to the ball on the quarter of an hour mark but curled his shot just wide after goalkeeper Jack Delo had come outside his penalty area.

The much-involved Pilbeam cut in from the right and warmed former Invicta custodian Delo’s hands in the 18th minute.

There were chances at both ends and on 22 minutes Atkins at Delo shot on the turn and seconds later Sam Hasler broke down the right and his shot was deflected for Herne Bay’s first corner of the match.

Turner received the ball from Steven Ita two minutes later and the former’s shot was charged down by Everitt as Herne Bay appealed for handball but the assistant referee’s flag was already up for offside.

But the home side drew level just before the half hour as Hasler’s corner from the right hand was sliced into his own net by Invicta fulllback Nat BLANKS.

And Herne Bay were enjoying arguably their best spell of the game as Ita’s shot from the left was blocked by stand-in centre back Everitt a minute later.

Lovell was booked for clattering into Blanks and then tempted fate by shooting after being given offside but referee Phil Rowley opted to give Lovell the benefit of the doubt rather than a second yellow card with a second booking for kicking the ball away.

And while Invicta fans expressed their displeasure at Mr Rowley’s leniency it was LOVELL who put his side ahead seven minutes after their equaliser, heading home Turner’s cross from the right after the impressive Hasler had spread the play from the opposite flank.

Hasler himself then fired over and at the other end Ronnie Dolan’s effort was charged down still during first half stoppage time after a move involving Pilbeam and Matt Newman.

Invicta were level 11 minutes into the second half when PILBEAM struck again with another low shot across Delo from the right into the far corner after being well found by Newman.

It had been Pilbeam who had won Invicta the game 2-0 at home to Herne Bay back in October when he scored one and set up another for Paul Booth having come on as a half time substitute.

The well-travelled Lovell sliced a shot wide three minutes later but Invicta were now again in the ascendency.

A 63rd minute Newman shot was charged down after Jordan Wright and Blanks combined clelverly and Draycott then rolled his shot at Delo after Pilbeam broke forward at pace following a Herne Bay corner and the ball went out to Atkins on the right.

Hard-working striker Atkins then couldn’t quite convert his chance from another Pilbeam ball in from the right.

Invicta made a change after 65 minutes as Ashley Miller came on for Wright with Draycott dropping back into midfield.

Visiting goalkeeper Roberts pushed over a 68th minute Ita shot from the left hand side after Lovell touched the ball to Joe Nelder.

Impact

And Roberts did well to deny Nelder from the subsequent corner on the left.

Herne Bay brought on former Gillingham star Danny Spiller for Hasler and the recently signed 33-year-old almost made an immediate impact but couldn’t quite touch home Danny Walder’s low ball in from the left hand side.

Invicta had the ball in the net again in the 74th minute when Atkins and Draycott combined in a good move to put Miller in and he fired spectacularly into the roof of the net but was denied by a hotly-disputed assistant referee’s flag for offside.

The home side had themselves had a ‘goal’ ruled out for offside early in the second half but were fortunate to escape here.

Miller’s outstanding pace off the mark will test many an official and this decision probably cost Folkestone their first league victory on this ground since Herne Bay’s promotion to Ryman One South three years ago.

Bay’s Nathan Eastwood was booked for a foul on Newman before being replaced by Dan Bent while the home side’s third substitution saw ‘legendary’ former Invicta goalscorer Stuart King replace Nelder.

And King was soon involved as former team-mate Friend appeared to pull the striker back but an assistant referee explained that the Bay substitute was offside anyway!

A few moments later King was booked for a rash 85th minute challenge on goalkeeper Roberts.

As Folkestone mounted a renewed late effort for victory, the excellent Everitt played a good 88th minute ball up to Atkins in the penalty box but the striker’s shot was somewhat fortunately deflected into the hands of goalkeeper Delo.

Goalkeeper

Invicta had the ball in the net again during stoppage time but Pilbeam was denied a hat-trick when it was ruled out either for offside or for a foul on defender Liam Quinn after Miller had played the ball in from the right.

Chappell’s absence here leaves goalkeeper Roberts as Invicta’s only remaining ever-present so far this season.

And, at the end of the day this was the point they’ve gained at Winch’s Field following defeats by the odd goal in five in 2012/13 and the odd goal in three last season.

HERNE BAY: Delo, Turner, Sayer, Johnson, Quinn, Eastwood (Bent 77), Walder, Nelder (King 79), Ita, Lovesll, Hasler (Spiller 71).  Subs not used: H Brown, B Brown. 

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Blanks, Friend, J. Everitt, Newman, Wright (Miller 65), Pilbeam, Draycott, Atkins, Dolan. Subs not used: Wraight, Edge, Fender.  

Attendance: 362.

Corners: Herne Bay 8 Invicta 6

Pictured above by Don Linkin - Top - Two goal Jonny Pilbeam celebrates after firing Folkestone in front and - Bottom - Richard Atkins finds himself alone and surrounded in the opposition box as Invicta mount their final onslaught on the Bay goal