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BETVICTOR ISTHMIAN PREMIER DIVISION.

WORTHING   V    FOLKESTONE INV 

 SCORE 0-1      GATE  1410

DATE  15/02/20. 

Video of Game click  HERE

  An 87th minute winner from top goalscorer and one-time Worthing striker Ira Jackson gave Folkestone Invicta victory in Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash in front of a bumper 1410 attendance amid the swirling wind and rain of Storm Dennis.

The result has blown the BetVictor Isthmian League Premier Division title race wide open again when a home victory would have seen Worthing go eight points clear at the top. Both sides had lost the previous weekend and after a run of 18 matches unbeaten in all competitions Worthing have now lost their last three fixtures.

The Rebels’ only away league defeat so far in 2019-20 had come at Folkestone Invicta on the opening day of the season – when Jackson was also on the scoresheet – so Neil Cugley’s side has now complerted a significant league ‘double’ over the league leaders.

For Invicta this was a tremendous win when many had feared the worst as three of the side’s regular back four were unavailable away to the division’s leading goalscorers.

A home midweek Kent Reliance Senior Cup win over Tonbridge Angles – courtesy of a second half hat-trick from Johan Ter Horst – will have given Invicta greater belief going into this game and they fielded a similar starting X1.  Tim Roberts came back in goal in place of Henry Newcombe and the fit again Jerson Dos Santos returned in place of Ian Draycott who started on the substitutes’ bench before coming on during the second half.

Jordan Wright had scored on a one-off appearance for Hawkinge the previous weekend before coming out of the wilderness for Invicta at left back against Tonbridge on Tuesday night and again here and could not have wished for his return to have gone any better.

Youth teamer Tyler Sterling has also had quite an eight days: the previous Saturday he had scored his first senior goal with a stunning strike at home to Carhsalton Athletic and then making his first senior start in midweek against Tonbridge. Here he did not look overawed as he made his full Isthmian Lague debut in such a big fixture.

Invicta manager Neil Cugley had joked earlier in the week – before the morale-boosting Tonbridge win – that with the shortage of defenders available to him his best optionmight be to go for a 5-5 draw here (a scoreline that Worthing had earlier in the season at home to Leatherhead)! Goals have usually been on the menu when these two clubs meet at Woodside Road, the ground recently renamed The Crucial Environmental Stadium.

But defences and the weather were on top here and Invicta goalkeeper Roberts did not have to make a save all afternoon despite having to deal with lots of aerial balls.

Invicta player-coach Micheal Everitt again did not look out of place in the central defensive role he had occupied against Tonbridge. A future tactical switch that one day might extend the 37-year-old club’s record appearance holder’s career even longer?

Alongside Everitt captain Matt Newman can also be very proud of his contribution here as he also undertook the media duties afterwards.

Invicta had the better of the game’s few clear chances but perhaps it always going to be Jackson who added to his growing reputation as a game – and title-race? – changer just as he had been when opening the scoring in equally windy conditions in Invicta’s previous away game at East Thurrock.

A teenage Jackson had a short spell with Worthing during the latter half of the 2015-16 season, including a home fixture here against an Invicta side that were Division One South champions that season. This season he now has 20 league goals so far.

The all-important goal here wasn’t the cleanest cut of goals as JACKSON’s strike from the right hand side deflected off Fin Stevens and was then touched by home goalkeeper Carl Rushworth and went in off the far post.

Earlier Ricky Aguiar played a sixth minute free kick into Reece Myles-Meekums on the left hand side of the Invicta box when the latter curled his shot over the bar across goal following a foul by Kieron McCann on new Worthing loan signing Connor Hunte.

Another Aguiar free kick from the left then just evaded Joel Colbran inside the penalty area two minutes later.

At the other end, Ter Horst found Dos Santos inside the box in the tenth minute but Colbran cleared after a quick free kick following a handball by centre half Aarran Racine.

Invicta then went desperately close following a 13th minute Scott Heard free kick from the right that was met by an Everitt header from which Rushworth made a great tip over the crossbar for Invicta’s only corner of the afternoon. The Worthing goalkeeper – on loan from Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion – has been the subject of speculation over a potential move to world giants Barcelona!

Stevens dispossessed Ter Horst on the edge of the penalty area in the 20th minute and his chip caught in the wind but went over the bar.

Invicta’s Heard broke following a 23rd minute Worthing free kick but was dispossessed by Aguiar whose run was curtailed by an Everitt foul. Aguiar then hit the subsequent free kick just wide of the target.

McCann dispossessed Aguiar in the 30th minute when Heard played the ball out to Sterling on the left hand side who took the ball on and shot across goal wide of the far post.

Invicta had a clear chance in the 35th minute when a Racine slip let Dos Santos in who took the ball past goalkeeper Rushworth but was forced too wide and couldn’t find the target as it went out for a goal kick.

Worthing had not made the most of having the conditions in their favour during the first half and captain Alex Parsons broke in the 38th minute but fired tamely wide.

With the wind in their favour during the second half, Invicta soon began to look more dangrerous. Sterling combined with Heard and got a shot in within 30 seocnds of the re-start but Rushworth got behind it.

The visitors broke again in the 47th minute when Dos Santos got a shot in from the right hand side but Rushworth made another good save.

Heard then won the ball in the 50th minute when Ter Horst found Dos Santos who played Jackson in down the right hand side and the striker shot into the side netting.

Worthing had a chance in the 52nd minute when a Hunte free kick evaded Racine who got clear inside the penalty area after a foul by McCann.

An Ollie Pearce shot from the edge of the penalty area was then narrowly wide of the post three minutes later.

Worthing made a double substitution in attack as Lloyd Dawes and Marvin Armstrong came on for debutant Hunte and Myles-Meekums.

Home defender Racine embarked on a run down the left hand side on the hour mark when Heard blocked a subsequent shot.

Invicta made their first change as Draycott came on for Dos Santos and was again to demonstrate his footballing intelligence on what was his 250th appearance for the club.

Wright dispossessed Parsons in the 70th minute when Rushworth held Sterling’s cross-shot from the left.

McCann then played the ball out to Jackson on the right hand side a minute later when the latter didn’t this time make the most of his opening and shot wide.  But Invicta were now harbouring hopes of snatching a victory.

Everitt blocked a 73rd minute Dawes shot when a home free kick from the left was played to Alfie Young and switched to Parsons on the right.

Wright was moved further forward by Invicta when Nat Blanks came on at left back as he replaced Sterling.

Jackson hit an 82nd minute free kick narrowly wide after a foul on Draycott following a Ter Horst touch.

The winning goal came after a move that involved McCann, Ter Horst and Heard.

Worthing desperately chased a late equaliser as a 90th minute Aguiar free kick came back out to substitute Kieron Pamment who fired just over the bar after Young had been bundled over by Draycott.

Jackson waltzed through the home defemce after a stoppage time Roberts clearance came off Racine and the striker warmed goalkeeper Rushworth’s hands with his shot.

Roberts had alerted referee Andy Bennett to a coin that had been thrown at the Invicta goalkeeper. A flare also went off after the final whistle and there had been incidents when home supporters came on the pitch after Worthing had also conceded a late winner at home to Cray Wanderers the previous Saturday.  An unfortunate side effect of the big crowds that the Sussex club is currently attracting perhaps.

The beauty of having a 3/4G pitch was there for all to see on such a filthy day weather-wise.

There were bookings for Worthing’s Young (61st minute challenge on Ter Horst) and for Invicta’s Everitt (23rd minute foul on Aguiar), Wright (catching Colbran in the 56th minute after pulling out of his original challenge) and Heard (73rd minute challenge on Pearce).

Invicta have now won away to Worthing, Cray Wanderers, Horsham and Enfield Town this season. Storm troopers indeed!

WORTHING: Rushworth, Colbran, Barker, Racine, Young, Parsons (Pamment 75 mins), Aguiar, Myles-Meekums (Armstrong 54 mins), Hunte (Dawes 54 mins), Pearce, Stevens.  Unused subs: Budd, Pattenden.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, O’Mara, Wright, Newman, Everitt, Sterling (Blanks 78 mins), Heard, Ter Horst, Jackson, Dos Santos (Draycott 65 mins), McCann.  Unused subs: Dolan, Jones, Newcombe.

Attendance: 1410. Corners: Worthing 3 Invicta 1