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Winning start to new year for Invicta as they hit three goals on the road for third game in a row

SITTINGBOURNE 0

FOLKESTONE INVICTA 3

Folkestone Invicta enjoyed a positive start to 2015 with a 3-0 victory away to Sittingbourne on New Year’s Day. 

Josh Vincent (right), Ian Draycott and Jon Pilbeam scored the goals to give Neil Cugley’s side a repeat of their 3-0 win on a heavy pitch at Woodstock Park last season.

The visitors could even afford the luxury of a missed first half penalty from Draycott.

With talismanic striker Paul Booth having left to join Tunbridge Wells and captain Liam Friend out with a broken bone in his foot, Invicta had suffered two big blows following their 1-0 Boxing Day home derby win over neighbours Hythe Town.

Booth, Friend and former Invicta player and Sittingbourne resident Chris Elliott were all in the crowd for this opening fixture of the new year.

The statistics now make happy reading for Invicta as they scored three goals for a third successive away match and have now conceded just one goal in their last five Ryman League Division One South fixtures.

Invicta had Callum Wraight continuing to deputise for Friend and the 17-year-old again looked composed alongside stand-in captain Frankie Chappell at the heart of the defence against lanky striker Harry Smith, a recent import from Tunbridge Wells.

The home side had a couple of early chances as Ollie Brown shot wastefully over with a good first minute chance when captain Tom Brunt played the ball in.

Central defender George Crimmen headed over following a sixth minute Hicham Akhazzan free kick from the left-hand side with another near miss after a contentious handball decision against Vincent.

There was a scare at the other end in the tenth minute when Brunt struck his own crossbar attempting to clear Jon Pilbeam’s cross from the right.

Sittingbourne were struggling to find an answer to Invicta’s offside trap but enjoyed their best spell of the game during the opening 20 minutes.

Folkestone left back Nat Blanks slid in to make a saving 19th minute tackle when his  opposite number Gary Webb played a dangerous ball towards Ollie Bankole in a move started by Akhazzan.

Chappell then put the ball out for the first corner of the match a minute later after Bankole put the ball in after going past Wraight down the right.

But it was Invicta who took the lead on 24 minutes when VINCENT met Blanks’ cross from the left and his header went in off the underside of the crossbar and keeper Adam Molloy.

Invicta were awarded a penalty by referee Graeme Ions after half an hour when Brown pulled Plibeam back after the wide man had combined with Atkins in a move started by Vincent.

But Draycott’s spot-kick – after being made to move the ball fractionally by Mr Ions - was comfortably saved by Molloy.

The visitors were now in the ascendancy as a 33rd minute Matt Newman effort from outside the 18-yard box was saved by Molloy and fellow midfielder Wright  shot wide of the far post from the left two minutes later.

And a 40th minute Wright shot was touched over by Molloy after the Invicta midfielder combined with Atkins and Newman as he ran at the home defence in a move started by Ronnie Dolan.

But Invicta had goalkeeper Tim Roberts to thank for an excellent 42nd minute save to deny Abe in the middle and the ball was scrambled away after Brunt had put Webb clear on the left.

Folkestone went 2-0 up on the stroke of half-time  as top goalscorer DRAYCOTT (left) turned ex-Hythe defender Lee Pleau inside out and shot across goal into the far corner of the net when Wraight’s ball up the left had stayed in play.

Roberts got down to save a shot from Akhazzan from the left hand edge of the penalty area as the Sittingbourne stalwart failed to find enough power to beat the goalkeeper inside seconds of the start of  the second half.

At the other end, a Crimmen tackle denied Draycott a minute later.

Atkins shot just wide of the far post after a good 50th minute Invicta move when Draycott played the ball through after Dolan had played it forward.

Home goalkeeper Molloy got out well came to block from Pilbeam two minutes later when Brunt could not prevent a Vincent ball forward from reaching the right hand edge of the penalty area.

Pilbeam was looking dangerous as ever for Invicta and shot against the post from the right hand side in the 53rd minute.

But it was he ended finished the scoring on 73 minutes when he brought the ball down well and fired into the net after being found by Newman’s forward ball.

Pleau was the game’s only booking for comments to an assistant referee on what was clearly another frustrating afternoon for the struggling home side.

Roberts got down to save a well-struck Abe shot from the left at the goalkeeper’s near post in the 79th minute.

Invicta gave a late run out to Flavius Fedor and the 21-year-old Romanian scooped the ball over when he controlled the ball well   following good play from Draycott.

Fellow substitute Reece Palmer also went close in the dying seconds from a good ball forward by Draycott.

SITTINGBOURNE: Molloy, Brunt, Webb (Harden 59), Pleau, Crimmen, Bankole, P Smith, Brown, H Smith (M Abe 78), D Abe, Akhazzan (Nwoko 70)

Subs not used: Kayembe, Davis 

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Blanks, Wraight, Chappell, Newman, Wright (Fedor 84), Pilbeam (Palmer 88), Draycott, Atkins, Dolan

Subs not used: Edge, Fender. 

Attendance: 180

Corners: Sittingbourne 4 Invicta 8

All pics by Don Linkin. Below - former Folkestone star Paul Booth joins injured ex-team-mates Micheal Everitt and Liam Friend to watch the New Year's Day game at Woodstock Park