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Hardly a classic but the points end up where they belong thanks to in-form striker Atkins' third goal in as many games back with Invicta

FOLKESTONE INVICTA 1

HYTHE TOWN 0

Richard Atkins (pictured) was the toast of Folkestone Invicta as his 69th minute goal settled Boxing Day’s Shepway derby in front of an 852 crowd at The Fullicks Stadium.

The wholehearted ATKINS grabbed the only goal of the game when the ball was squared to him after a combination between Ian Draycott and Paul Booth down the left hand side.

The 25-year-old striker has enjoyed a fairytale return to the club following more than  a year away travelling the world, during which time he had a spell playing in Australia.

This was Atkins’ third goal in three appearances since his return.

He initially came off the bench at Tooting on December 13th with Invicta trailing 1-0 and headed in an equaliser that set Neil Cugley’s side on the way to up to a 3-1 win.

Atkins then started and scored again in a 3-0 win at Chipstead on the Saturday before Christmas and here added his name to Invicta’s Boxing Day folklore in this High Noon showdown.

The striker had scored 15 goals and was voted as Players’ Player of the Year for 2012/13 at the end of his first spell with the club when Invicta were beaten 1-0 away to Maidstone United in a play-off semi final that was settled by a goal from Paul Booth.

Atkins had also scored on his initial home debut for the club against Whitstable Town.

His return will have played its part in Invicta’s decision to let striker Joe Taylor join Tonbridge Angels after a loan spell at Ramsgate, a move only completed on Christmas Eve.

Invicta had started here with Atkins, Booth and Ian Draycott all in the starting 11 and Jon Pilbeam having to make do with a place on the substitutes’ bench.

This was Hythe manager Tim Dixon’s first Shepway derby and his club will have gone into the game fully aware that their last Boxing Day visit here had ended in an ignominious 8-0 defeat back in 2011.

Invicta never reached the heights of three years ago but did have the game’s first real chance as Hythe goalkeeper Roddy Hayward saved from Jordan Wright and the ball was scrambled off the line by Laurence Harvey.

At the other end, Invicta keeper Tim Roberts – who had succeeded Hayward at The Fullicks Stadium some 14 months – saved comfortably when striker Craig Thompson got a headed touch to Town captain James Morrish’s cross.

Invicta right back Josh Vincent, who had scored in two of the previous three Boxing Day derbies between the two clubs, headed wide from a Ronnie Dolan corner.

Hythe went close as Laurence Harvey grazed the post from a John Walker free kick.

But the home side went forward again as left back Nat Blanks fired over after a neat one-two with Booth.

Hythe struck the upright again when Luke Harvey left fly from 20 yards and his shot hit the upright.

A block tackle by Invicta captain Liam Friend on Thompson left the Hythe striker needing to be replaced by Sam Conlon before half time.

And within minutes of his introduction Conlon burst free on the right and his fierce low effort was superbly turned onto the far post by excellent Invicta keeper Roberts.

Centre back Friend was able to hobble through till half time but the skipper did not come out after the break and X-Rays on Saturday revealed a broken metatarsal.

Friend’s 17-year-old replacement Callum Wraight was making only his 11th senior appearance for the club but has already featured in more than his fair share of high profile games with  Invicta on their way to a third clean sheet in their last four matches.

The home side had made one last chance at the end of the first half as Hayward made an acrobatic save to deny Wright.

Wright was himself to be substituted during the second half as Invicta introduced the pace of Pilbeam.

Hayward made an excellent double save to deny Atkins after Blanks crossed to the near post, but Atkins’ goal seconds later settled the issue in what turned out to be strike partner Booth’s last appearance for Invicta before a move to Kent League club Tunbridge Wells.

Hythe brought on Dave Pilcher and Jordan Wells in a late attempt to save the day but never looked likely to find the equaliser as Folkestone held on for three fully deserved points,

And, of course, the local bragging rights till these two clubs meet again at Reachfields on Easter Monday.

This was to prove probably outstanding veteran striker Paul Booth's final game for Folkestone as he joins Tunbridge Wells in Southern Counites East for the rest of this season, though Invicta hold onto his Ryman League registration and could recall him for the end-of-season play-offs.

Boothy - pictured above left  in a tussle with Hythe's excellent fullback Lewis Mingle - goes with our best wishes and thanks for 14 memorable months at The Fullicks Stadium.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Blanks, Friend (Wraight 45), Chappell, Newman, Wright (Pilbeam 58), Atkins, Draycott, Booth, Dolan. 

Subs not used:: Fedor, Palmer, Fender 

HYTHE TOWN: Hayward, Walker, Mingle, Collado, Stevenson, Laurence Harvey, Yianni (Pilcher 81), Morrish, Thompson (Conlon 35), Luke Harvey, Sellens (Wells 84).

Subs:not used: Philpott, Sullivan. 

Attendance: 852.

Below - GOAL!!! Richard Atkins writes himself a place in Invicta's Shepway derby folklore as Hythe keeper Roddy Hayward's offside claims are ignored and the in-form striker forces home the matchwinning goal at The Fullicks Stadium following an unselfish pass inside by Ian Draycott, who is also in the picture. (Pictures courtesy of Carlton Myrie of Carlton Photographics)