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    EAST THURROCK UNITED                   1     FOLKESTONE INVICTA             1

An 88th minute equaliser kept Folkestone Invicta off the top of the table after a 1-1 draw on a misty Tuesday night at Rookery Hill in Corringham.

Invicta are now the only side unbeaten after six matches of the 2021-22 season in the Pitching In Isthmian League Premier Division, but Kingstonian remain as the early season leaders despite losing 3-1 away to Wingate & Finchley on Tuesday night.

Neil Cugley’s side also have the best defensive record in the division but had to survive some scares here as East Thurrock hit both the post and the crossbar.

Invicta had opened the scoring on the stroke of half time through top goalscorer David Smith.

The Folkestone side had Finn O’Mara in defence after he had come on in place of the injured Josh Vincent in Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Horsham and Scott Heard came back into the starting X1 for Saturday’s record goalscorer Ian raycott against a club for whom he had a loan spell whilst at Dagenham & Redbridge.

Visibility was a real problem during the first half as the mist descended and all the early chances fell to the home side.

Jordan Wright had to get across to make a saving tackle when home captain Samuel Owusu played the ball into the box in the fifth minute.

Johnny Ashman then shot against the post a minute later after a throw in from the right and hand side and a ball in from Ben Wyss.

Invicta goalkeeper Tim Roberts then had to make a good save to deny former Concord Rangers player Alex Hernandez at the expense of a corner when the ball was played into the visitors’ box again by Ola Ogunwamide.

Another home attack followed in the tenth minute when Paulius Ditkevicius latched onto a ball down the middle and his shot deflected for another corner.

Invicta began to create chances of their own as Ade Yusuff played the ball through to Smith in the 13th minute and the latter got his shot in but was just wide of the target.

Invicta then gained a succession of corners from the quarter of an hour mark starting with a Ronnie Dolan set piece from the right that took a touch before being put out for another corner at the far post.

A Wright shot from the edge of the box was then touched out for another corner seconds later.

Smith then had a shot deflected for another corner after a 19th minute Alfie Paxman throw in from the left hand side.

Matt Newman curled a 21st minute shot from outside the penalty area that deflected for another corner following a spell of Invicta possession.

Heard then played a good 23rd minute ball out to Paxman on the left hand side but the latter mis-cued his shot wide of the target.

A Smith shot was then blocked in the box a minute later as Invicta were now in the ascendancy.

Debutant home goalkeeper Chiedozie Nwosu sent a 34th minute free kick forward and when the ball came back out Roberts had to get behind a long range strike.

Ashman headed an Ogunwamide cross over for The Rocks in the 42nd minute after the ball had been spread to the right hand side.

But it was Invicta that opened the scoring during first half stoppage time when Heard played a great ball out to Paxman on the left hand side who played it across goal where SMITH was there to score from close range for his fifth league goal in the opening six fixtures of the season.

Early in the second half, a 48th minute Ogunwamide shot was charged down after a corner from the left.

For Invicta, Smith hit two shots on the turn just off target in the 55th and 56th minutes.

East Thurrock threatened as a good Ogunwamide turn took him past Wright on the hour mark but the ball into the box was cleared by central defender Newman.

Invicta goalkeeper Roberts then made an excellent save to touch over Hernandez’s well-struck 63rd minute free kick.

Ryan Johnson then had to clear a 66th minute ball into the Invicta box after Hernandez had played the ball from right to left.

Hernandez played a 74trh minute through ball to Ashman who was forced out by Invicta defenders Callum Davies and O’Mara as he tried to go round Roberts.

There were chances at both ends in the 76th minute as a Ditkevicius shot flashed just wide of the far post after the ball was played across from the right in a move that lso involved Ashman.

Paxman then hit a low shot wide of the far post across goal after a good ball to the left hand side.

Wright then had a 79th minute chance at the far post after a ball across from the left but it was put out for a corner by a defender.

East Thurrock remained a threat as Wyss hit a good 83rd minute strike wide of the post after a Ditkevicius free kick came back out.

The late equaliser came when a shot was charged down and the subsequent ball in from the right hand side was converted by HERNANDEZ. It was the first away league goal that Invicta have conceded so far this season.

It could have got even better for the home side as they broke in the 89th minute and had two v one before Ogunwamide’s shot came back down from the crossbar via Roberts and a follow up was cleared and scrambled away from close to the line.

At the other end, Nwosu saved at his near post to deny Wright in stoppage time after a move involving substitute Draycott and Heard.

But East Thurrock went close again with a good low shot from the right hand side of the penalty area that deflected just wide of the far post after a Hernandez ball.

Home substitute Kenny Aileru broke down the left hand side after an Invicta free kick and raced past O’Mara and Davies before being unceremoniously fouled by O’Mara who was booked.

The subsequent free kick went into the Invicta wall before the last kick of the game was a shot wide of the far post across goal from the right hand side.

There had earlier been bookings for East Thurrock’s Rimmel Daniel (taking Heard out in the 38th minute after Johnson had found Dolan) and Owusu (hacking Heard down in stoppage time).

Invicta had just the four substitutes, with Vincent watching from the sidelines, Kieron McCann having a successful knee operation earlier in the day and Aaron Simpson still out for health reasons.

EAST THURROCK UNITED: Nwosu, Wyss, Daniel, Robindon, Kettle (Nazor 70 mins), Ogunwamide, Owusu, Ashman (Aileru 83 mins), Joseph, Ditkevicius, Hernandez.  Unused subs: Lodovica, Gench, Janata.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, O’Mara, Wright, Newman, Davies, Johnson, Heard, Dolan, Smith, Yusuff (Draycott 76 mins), Paxman.   Unused subs: Sterling, Everitt, Collins.

Corners: East Thurrock 10 Invicta 10

Attendance: 232.