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JOH SPARES FOLKESTONE'S BLUSHES AS THEY EDGE CLOSER TO THE PLAY-OFFS

Hat-trick star Johan Ter Horst turns away to celebrate after his clever shot from a near impossible angle gives Invicta a tenth minute lead at Staines (PICS: Don Linkin)

STAINES TOWN 4

FOLKESTONE INVICTA 4

Johan Ter Horst’s third goal of the match completed the striker’s first hat-trick since his return to Invicta and salvaged a point for the visitors in this vital play-off fixture against a big, strong, quick Staines Town side at Wheatsheaf Park on Thursday night.

 The striker who has literally been to Hull and back, forced home a face-saving fourth goal of the game for his side four minutes into stoppage time at the end of what neutrals must have seen as a highly entertaining affair between a Folkestone side who began the day in second place with their opponents at seventh and two places outside the play-off zone.

As ever, Folkestone began the game on the front foot and, from a right wing corner to the near post Ter Horst whipped around to fire into the net from a night impossible angle with 10 minutes on the clock.

But as three more minutes flew by while the little striker’s many admirers tried to work out how he had done that, Staines won possession and switched the ball forward quickly for Elliot Buchanan to beat Tim Roberts, putting The Swans back on level terms almost instantaneously.

Play continued at near breakneck pace with Folkestone on top for the most part in a game where pace and power were the order of the day while imagination played very little part without any sign of someone on other side able to take a grip and perhaps slow things down just a wee bit.

During these 90 plus minutes, Invicta led three times and were never behind until eight minutes from the end of normal time before Ter Horst – undoubtedly man of the match – saw justice was done.

Space

His second goal came on 22 minutes, with a fine strike from just inside the 18 yard box that gave Folkestone some breathing space.

You could not have called this knockabout stuff, but Buchanan hit back again a quarter of an hour later to send the two teams in level at the break.

Back in the starting 11 for the first time since picking up an injury at Harrow six games ago, Ian Draycott perhaps struggled with the pace and wasted two good chances to restore the visitors’ lead, the best of them just seconds before the half-time whistle from referee Tim Donellan.

Folkestone dominated and forced a number of reasonable opportunities though corners, of which they had many, were never going to be that profitable against a gigantic home back three which centre back Ben Martin towered over everyone.

When the big number was forced off through injury 15 minutes from time, you had to wonder if he’d been hit by a low flying aircraft. Heathrow is only a few miles away, after all! But Martin was hobbling quite noticeably after the match and must be a big doubt for Staines’ next crucial play-off game, against Margate tomorrow (Saturday).

Long before his departure, Invicta had regained the lead and lost it again.

Seven minutes after the interval, under pressure close to Staines’ goal-line, Ter Horst showed the intelligence to lay the ball back to well outside the box from where midfielder Ronnie Dolan simply leathered it towards goal, giving giving Swans’ keeper Conor Hudnott absolutely no chance of keeping it out.

This time Folkestone’s lead lasted 20 minutes offering some encouragement that they might be on their way to a comfortable victory. But, oh no!

As the contest moved into its final stages, it was Mo Bettamer who got his name on the scoresheet and, encouraged by that success, Staines took control for almost the first time in the entire match.

The writing was already starting to appear on the wall, and 82 minutes the prolific Buchanan complete his hat-trick with another well struck effort.

Causes

To their credit, Folkestone these days don’t give up seemingly lost causes and four minutes into stoppage time Ter Horst forced the ball home and the Invicta camp breathed again.

There was still time for the luckless Ade Yusuff to have a goal ruled out for offside and, with the last kick of the game, fire into the side netting of a game, the like of which many of us may never see again.

Dulwich Hamlet’s 4-0 win over Dorking Wanderers took them back into second place above Invicta who can could console themselves with the thought that Staines stayed a massive 11 points behind them, while Folkestone themselves edged one point closer to the 83 points which should ensure them of their play-off position.

This was a fairly frantic affair at times, but played in a good spirit and perhaps deserving a much bigger crowd than the 250 who paid at the gate.

Folkestone Invicta: Roberts; Vincent, Blanks, Dolan (Taylor 87), Davies, Hasler, Ter Horst, Aboagye, Draycott, Yusuff, McCann

Subs not used: Newman, Wright, Madden, Coleman

Attendance: 247

Referee: Tim Donellan

Below: Johan Ter Horst fires past diving keeper Conor Hudnott to put Invicta 2-1 ahead at Staines