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 SCORE 0 - 4      GATE  201

DATE     01/01/20.  

Video of Game click  HERE

Folkestone Invicta underlined their BetVictor Isthmian League Premier Division title-chasing credentials with a second 4-0 win over the festive period as goals from Johan Ter Horst, Alfie Paxman, Chinedu McKenzie and Ira Jackson (penalty) gave Neil Ccugley’s side an emphatic victory at Merstham on New Year’s Day.

Invicta’s 4-0 home win over Margate on Boxing Day gave them a great Christmas and this was a superb way to start 2020 as belief is growing that the Folkestone club can indeed sustain a title challenge.

This was another dominant display from Invicta who really looked the part at the Whisky Bible Stadium.

There were several impressive individual performances from the visitors and a second goal from two substitute appearances from new signing McKenzie will live long in the memory.

It was also a big day for right back Josh Vincent who made his 500th senior appearance for the club, joining current team mate and player-coach Micheal Everitt and former defensive partners Liam Friend and Frankie Chappell in the 500 club.

Invicta made one enforced change to the starting X1 from Boxing Day as Finn O’Mara came in for Matt Newman (groin) whom he had replaced against Margate.

The New Year brought with it colder conditions as you could almost see the temperature dropping.

Scott Heard slipped a fifth minute free kick to Jackson on the right hand side following a foul by Aaron Lamont on Ronnie Dolan but home goalkeeper Matte Pierson claimed the subsequent cross and was hurt in the process.

The visitors had a three-pronged attack and each was involved in the seventh minute when Jacksaon received the ball from Ter Horst and put Jerson Dos Santos in but the latter didn’t get his shot in.

At the other end, a 13th minute Shola Ayoola from the left hand side of the box shot tested Tim Roberts after a back heel from striking partner Omar Folkes. It was to be a second successive clean sheet for Roberts following his Christmas recall.

For Invicta, Heard let fly from outside the penalty area with a well-struck shot that warmed Pierson’s hands.

Everitt played an 18th minute pass up to Alfie Paxman who took it down well on the left hand side and his subsequent ball across the box reached Dos Santos whose shot was blocked for Invicta’s first corner.

The opening goal soon followed in the 19th minute when TER HORST fired in after a balll in from the right hand side had been met by O’Mara at the far post.

Merstham’s Lamont made room for himself on the edge of a crowded box and got a low 26th minute shot in that Roberts got down to save.

Invicta looked like increasing their lead a minute later when Heard received the ball from Dos Santos and played it out to Jackson on the right whose good ball across goal was met by Dos Santos at the far post who shot just wide across goal.

Folkes did well to get past Invicta defenders Davies and Paxman when striking partner Ayoola headed the ball on in the 29th minute but the ball across goal was beyond home team mates and O’Mara was able to clear.

Dolan was then in the thick of the action as he had two shots initially blocked before a third well-struck strike was palmed away by Pierson.

Invicta threatened again in the 33rd minute when Vincent played the ball up to Dos Santos on the right who sent it across to Jackson who shot from distance narrowly wide of the target.

Dos Santos then shot against the post with the outside of his boot 11 minutes later after a good ball in from the right and Edwin Mensah cleared.

It was soon 2-0 in the 45th minute when PAXMAN dinked the ball in after a great ball into the box from Heard.

Invicta went forard again during firest half stoppage time when a Roberts clearance fell to Dos Santos, Jackson took the ball on and a Ter Horst shot deflected wide but there was no time to take the corner.

It was more of the same at the start of the seocnd half as Jackson fired wide from just outside the area after receiving the ball from Dolan just 23 seconds after the re-start.

Merstham responded as a 47th minute Chace Jacquart shot from the left hand side of the box was blocked by Davies after Jacquart had initially slipped hte ball to Ayoola.

Home debutant Richard Whittingham - signed from Hemel Hempstead – then received the ball from Folkes and his well-struck 51st minute shot flew wide after a move started by Lamont and Jacquart.

Invicta then had a couple of noteworthy attacks in the 58th minute. Paxman exchanged passes with Dos Santos before the left back played an inviting cross to the far post that was met by a Vincent header and Ter Horst’s follow up shot was kept out by a Mensah header on the line.  A well hit Ter Horst shot from the right hand side of the box was then touched over the bar for a corner by Pierson.

Vincent then looked as though he might score on his big day when Dolan played a good 62nd minute ball into hte box to him and the right back got in behind Jacquart but poked his shot wide when under pressure from the Merstham player.

Merstham substitute Theo Kersuzan nearly made an immediate impact when Ayoola played the balll across to him from the left hand side of the box to the far post but Heard cleared from close to the line in a move that also involved Jacquart and Folkes.

The home side claimed a goal in the 71st minute when a corner from the right was met bhy a Mensah header that Roberts saved between his legs and assistant referee Jake Woodman indicated that the ball was not over the line.

Mensah had been given a red card when Merstham went on to lose 3-1 at Invicta on the August Bank Holiday Monday and had lost an appeal to have that sending off overturned. It did not go unnoticed by the home club that referee Graeme Ions (and indeed assistant Harry Wager) was also officiating that afternoon.

Invicta continued to create chances as a Jackson corss from the right was put out for a corner at the far post and Paxman got forward again and fired wide from outside the area in the 72nd minute.

A Dolan free kick was then met by a couple of O’Mara headers before Pierson held three minutes later.

McKenzie had replaced Dos Santos for Invicta and became the game’s only booking for preventing Pierson from clearing the ball in the 75th minute.

But it was for McKENZIE’s stunning wonder strike to make it 3-0 in the 76th minute that his contribution will be remembered as he hit a perfectly executed volley into the roof of the net after a touch from fellow substitute Kieron McCann.

Merstham substitutes Marco Sousa-Pina and Kersuzan combined two minutes later when the latter played the ball into the box but Ayoola couldn’t quite get it under control.

Invicta were awarded their penalty when a McKenzie ball enabled Jackson to run at home captain James Richmond who bundled the striker over. It was JACKSON who emphatically dispatched the 80th minute spot kick to complete the scoring and an emphatic votory.

Whittingham hit a well-struck 83rd minute free kick but it lacked sufficient power and Roberts saved after a foul on Sousa-Pina when referee Ions called play back after an initial advantage.

Invicta substitute Nat Blanks played a good 88th minute ball out to McKenzie on the right who turned provider with a ball into the middle but Jackosn was denied by a point blank save from Pierson.

An ambitious but superb 90th minute crossfield ball from Heard on the left picked Vincent out on the right hand side of the penalty area but the latter couldn’t get enough on his shot to find the goal that would have put the icing on the cake of his day.

Heard threw himself to block home substitute Jamie Splatt’s stoppage time shot at the expense of a corner.

The visitors maintained their determination, focus and discipilne until the end to record another clean sheet.

A final home opening saw Sousa-Pina rifle a low shot wide from outside the penalty area after a touch from Ayoola.

Merstham have had to undergo a lot of changes since pipping Invicta to a play off place on the final day of last season and long-serving manager Hayden Bird left to join Kingstonian, taking an entire team with him. Frank Wilson took over to leave the rebuild, assisted by former top flight striker Barry Hayles.

Stability with the manager – the longest-serving in the top seven flights of Englsih football – and playing squad has been a cornerstone of Invicta’s recent revival over hte past few seasons.

They go into 2020 with a chance of achieving National League status for the first time.

Can they do it?

MERSTHAM: Pierson, Mendes-Calucane, O’Halloran, Lamont (Splatt 79 mins), Richmond, Mensah, Brown (Kersuzan 64 mins), Whittingham, Folkes, Ayoola, Jacquart (Sousa-Pina 74 mins).  Unused subs: Hayles, Lester.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Paxman, O’Mara, Davies, Dolan, Heard, Everitt (Blanks 84 mins), Jackson, Dos Santos (McKenzie 68 mins), Ter Horst (McCann 72 mins).  Unused sub: Newcombe