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FOLKESTONE INVICTA 2

MERSTHAM 2

Folkestone Invicta salvaged a point from Saturday’s home game against ten men Merstham after the visitors had goalkeeper Brannon Daly sent off just before half time.

Daly was given a straight red card for bringing down Connor Coyne after a mistake by centre half Marc-Anthony Okoye had let the striker in and he went to ground the goalkeeper.

There was a two and a half minute delay as Merstham brought on goalkeeping coach Ian Chatfield for outfield player George Craddock.

Darren SMITH remained unfazed and stepped up to convert the subsequent penalty during first half stoppage time to bring Invicta back into the game at 2-1 down.

For the second successive home league game, Invicta had found themselves 2-0 down during the first half as they defended the Wilmoths Citroen Folkestone end.

On-side

Merstham had opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when a breakaway saw Tommy Hutchings take advantage of a slip by central defender Frankie Chappell. run on and cross from the left hand side for Aaron Rhule to find the roof of the net.

It was 2-0 in the 38th minute when former Leatherhead striker HUTCHINGS was given on-side when the ball was played up the left and himself smashed a powerful strike into the roof of the net.

The sending off and penalty was the game’s turning point and Invicta piled on the pressure during the second half.

The equaliser came in the 77th minute when substitute Jon PILBEAM  - pictured - opened his account for the club by slotting a low shot into the net after being put through by Ian Draycott when Micheal Everitt did well in midfield.

The home side had gone into the game with Charley Robertson making his debut on loan from Maidstone United, with Coyne again partnering Draycott in attack as Paul Booth (groin) watched from the sidelines.

In the early exchanges, a Matt Newman cross from the right was just too high for Coyne in the middle and a Hutchings ball in from the right was held by goalkeeper Tim Roberts at the second attempt.

Appearance

A tenth minute Hill free kick was met by the head of Invicta central defender Liam Friend and touched over the crossbar by Roberts for the game’s first corner.

Invicta captain Friend was making his 400th starting appearance for the club, with only team mate Micheal Everitt having previously reached that landmark in senior football.

Coyne shot against the crossbar for Invicta on the quarter of an hour mark when debutant Robertson pulled the ball back from the right after receiving it from Josh Vincent.

But it was Merstham that soon took control with their 2-0 lead. In between the two goals Invicta’s Friend was booked for a foul on Hutchings.

Coyne shot wide of the target from the right hand side of the penalty area when Smith played the ball up in the 41st minute.

And the Invicta pair were soon involved again for the big penalty incident.

Merstham were temporarily rocked as defender Antone Douglas made an error during first half stoppage time but recovered to avert the danger.

Douglas then blocked a Coyne shot outside the penalty area as the first half came to a close.

Merstham captain Fabio Saraiva blasted over from just outside the penalty area in the 49th minute with a shot that was well-struck but he had Hutchings free to his left after Hill had played the ball to Kalvin Morath-Gibbs down the right.

At the other end, Nat Blanks received a ball from right to left and drilled the ball into the penalty area where Okoye cleared from close to the line for Invicta’s first corner of the game.

A Chappell ball forward towards substitute Pilbeam on the hour mark was put out for another corner by Morath-Gibbs as Invicta went in search of an equaliser.

A 63rd minute Pilbeam shot was kept out by goalkeeper Chatfield after a Robertson run and Invicta went three up front as Dane Luchford came on for Robertson.

Draycott then put the ball in from the right towards Luchford at the far post as Merstham had more defending to do.

At the other end, more good play from Hutchings on the left in the 71st minute put Aaron Rhule clear but Friend made a saving tackle to clear.

Side-netting

Luchford and Newman created space for Smith whose well-struck shot from outside the penalty area was saved by Chatfield, but Invicta were soon level through Pilbeam.

Invicta now had hopes of winning the game as Pilbeam shot into the side netting from the left after a Friend ball forward and Draycott also shot wide from the left hand side of the penalty area after a Luchford ball.

An 89th minute Blanks shot was deflected for a corner when he met a Luchford free kick from the left.

Merstham then broke at the other end as substitute Taurean Roberts hit a low shot just wide of the post from the left hand edge of the penalty box.

A stoppage time free kick from Invicta goalkeeper Roberts sailed into the penalty area to Chappell but carried to Chatfield before Pilbeam could make contact.

With five minutes added on, a Luchford corner from the left was met by a Friend header at the far post and then an Everitt header was headed off the line.

There was still time for Roberts to save but not hold a Hutchings free kick from the right and Blanks cleared with the very last kick of the match.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Blanks, Friend, Chappell, Newman (Wright 84 mins), Robertson (Luchford 65 mins), Smith, Draycott, Coyne (Pilbeam 53 mins), M Everitt

Unused subs: Wraight, Fender.

MERSTHAM: Daly, Morath-Gibbs, Cooper, Douglas, Okoye, Henriques, Hill (Thompson 77 mins), Craddock (Chatfield 45 mins), Hutchings, Saraiva, Rhule (Roberts 75 mins).  

Unused subs: Folkes, Phillips-McLean. 

Attendance: 302

Corners: Invicta 7 Merstham 4