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FOLKESTONE INVICTA       2   EASTLEIGH                3    after extra time

Folkestone Invicta’s 12-match unbeaten start to the 2021-22 season came to a cruel end as Neil Cugley’s side was beaten 3-2 after extra time inTuesday night’s big Emirates F A Cup Fourth Round Qualifying replay at home to Eastleigh when the home side came back from being 2-0 down despite being reduced to ten men when defender Josh Vincent was controversially sent off.

In the end it was a 114th minute winner from striker Ben House that took National League club Eastleigh through to a First Round Proper tie away to Boreham Wood.

This had the feel of a big occasion from the start as a bumper crowd packed into the BuildKent Stadium having formed a long queue in the build up to kick off. Three quarters of the ground was as busy as has been seen here for some time.

Invicta had led 3-0 after just 17 minutes and at half time in Saturday’s original tie before Eastleigh came back to draw 3-3 with a last ditch equaliser. The Folkestone side here somehow rallied to dig deep again when reduced to tenm ne as goals from AdeYusuff and Scott Heard took the game into extra time.

Vincent – Invicta’s longest-serving player - had come back into the side on Saturday after a recent thigh injury and was booked in the 49th minute for a foul on Eastleigh captain Tyrone Barnett on the left hand side.

He was then sent off following a 54th minute collision with Jake Hesketh that referee Peter Conn at first appeared uninterested in but then issued a second yellow card after consulting one of his assistants.

Mr Conn – who had referee-d Invicta’s previous home match against Brightlingsea Regent - had started the game as fourth official but took over in the middle when original referee Robert Whitton had to go off with a muscle injury in the 32nd minute.  Mr Whitton had suffered the same fate when referee-ing Eastleigh’s away match at Southend a fortnight earlier.

Invicta had every right to feel hard done by.

The Folkestone side kept the same starting X1 that had come so close to victory on Saturday and again made a good start as Jordan Wright shot over from outside the penalty area in the sixth minute.

Home central defender Matt Newman then surged forward two minutes later and tried to thread striker David Smith through but visiting goalkeeper Joe McDonnell recovered to claim the ball at the second attempt down the left hand side of the penalty area.

At the other end, home captain Callum Davies was dispossessed by Cavaghn Miley in the 19th minute when big striker Barnett rifled in a low shot but Alexis Andre got down to save.

Eastleigh went ahead for the first time in the tie in the 24th minute when House found Vincent Harper on the left whose cross was converted by Tom WHELAN in a move started by Josh Hare, Whelan and Hesketh.

Yusuff found Alfie Paxman on the left in the 34th minute when the ball in was behind his team mates.

Eastleigh gained their first corner of the night in the 37th minute when Whelan’s set piece on the left came off Davies’ head for another corner on the right hand side.

Whelan hit a shot on the turn over the bar from just outside the penalty area in the 41st minute.

Invicta went close to a 45th minute equaliser when Yusuff broke down the right hand side but striking partner Smith couldn’t quite get a telling touch at the near post after Ronnie Dolan and Heard had combined.

House then cut inside the right hand side of the penalty area during first half stoppage time but was dispossessed by Davies.

Invicta were still in it and Paxman drilled a low 51st minute shot wie from just outside the box.

But Vincent’s sending off was then to be one of the night’s main talking points.

Andre turned aq 56th minute House shot round the post for a corner after Hesketh had combined with Whelan.

Invicta then went forward a minute later when McDonnell saved from Yusuff after a move that also involved Paxman and Smith.

But it was 2-0 in the 58th minute when Invicta were denied a free kick as big defender Christian Maghoma – who had scored Saturday’s dramatic late equaliser - got away from Yusuff and found House on the left whose ball in was met by HESKETH and the latter cut inside and drilled a shot into the bottom corner of the net from just inside the penalty area.

2-0 to the full-timers against ten men – surely it was all over?  Not a bit of it.

A cross was from the left was palmed away by Andre.

Invicta were back in the 63rd minute when Smith received a Paxman throw in and crossed for YUSUFF to slam the ball in at the far post for his sixth F A Cup goal of the season.

There had been concerns that Saturday’s exertions would have left Invicta physically and mentally drained ahead of this replay but they somehow found new reserves of energy and spirit in adversity too.

Paxman played a good 74th minute ball in from the left hand side that was just too high for Yusuff and the ball ricocheted out for a goal kick.

The ball broke to house in the 77th minute but Davies threw himself to block.

It was sensationally 2-2 in the 78th minute when Yusuff played the ball to Dolan who picked Newman out and the latter provided a sublime ball that was met by a clever run and flick from the irrepressible HEARD.

It was some goal. It was some moment.

Heard – full of running as ever – has now scored in five of Invicta’s last six matches and three in a row.

Harper, substitute Danny Whitehall and Whelan combined to find House down the right hand side of the penalty area but Andre made a good save.

Whelan and Whitehall combined to find substitute Harry Pritchard down the left hand side but there was no pace on his 84th minute shot wide.

Paxman hit a crossfield ball from the left to Yusuff on the right in the 87th minute and the latter’s deep cross was headed wide by Paxman at the far post.

It was end to end and gripping stuff as Eastleigh substitute Ryan Hill fired over seconds later after a Hare cross from the right.

House shot into the side netting after a 90th minute ball down the left hand side and the Spitfires had chances during stoppage time but Invicta held on for extra time.

Eastleigh had a 95th minute extra time chance when Whelan blasted over after Andre had punched a Hare cross from the right away.

Invicta went forward a minute later when Paxman played a crossfield ball from the left to Wright on the right and the latter cut in before his shot deflected for a corner.

Yusuff got a 99th minute shot in but McDonell saved after a Paxzman ball to substitute Ian Draycott.

Maghoma found Hill down the left hand side in the 101st minute who played the ball back to Whelan but Andre made an excellent save to touch the well-struck shot past the post for a corner.

Whitehall volleyed wastefully wide at the far post seconds later after a ball in from the right.

Hill played the ball to House on the left hand side at the start of the second period of extra time when the latter cut inside but Andre got behind it.

A Hare cross from the right was headed away by Ryan Johnson and Davies then threw himself to block from Whelan.

Whelan found Hill on the right but the latter was dispossessed by Davies.

The winning goal came when Hare – son of watching one-time Invicta manager Darren – crossed from the right and HOUSE found the net.

As well as Vinent’s dismissal, there were bookings for Invicta’s Dolan (19th minute foul on Hesketh) and Davies (120th minute foul on the left hand side) and for Eastleigh’s Hare (foul on Paxman after being beaten all ends up during first half stoppage time), Miley (68th minute foul on Smith), Harper (82nd minute) and Whelan (87th minute foul on Paxman).

Folkestone Invicta has not beaten Eastleigh in seven matches between the two clubs now – they could not have come closer in these two games.

One for the history books.

Invicta used their new floodlights for the first time, had new nets and perhaps it was also the first time that their opponents had used four substitutes in a game as Danny Hollands – captain on Saturday – came on for the visitors during extra time.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Andre, Vincent, Wright (Freeman 112 mins), Newman, Davies, Johnson (Sterling 117 mins), Heard, Dolan, Smith (Draycott 81 mins), Yusuff, Paxman.   Unused subs: O’Mara, McCann, Everitt, Collins.

EASTLEIGH: McDonnell, Hare, Miley (Hollands 117 mins), Broadbent (Hill 84 mins), Boyce, Barnett (Whitehall 60 mins), Hesketh (Pritchard 74 mins), Hollands House, Whelan, Maghoma, Harper.  Unused subs: Kelly, Smart, Flitney. 

Corners: Invicta 7 Eastleigh 6

Attendance: 1237.