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  FOLKESTONE INVICTA                6

                                    SOUTH PARK                                  0

Folkestone Invicta knocked South Park for six in a rare Thursday night fixture and had half a dozen different goalscorers at The Fullicks Stadium.

Jon Pilbeam, Micheal Everitt, Jordan Wright, Frankie Chappell, Ian Daycott and Ronnie Dolan were all on the scoresheet as Invicta went on another goal spree having on 5-0 in the previous home match against Horsham, with Saturday’s goalless draw at Corinthian-Casuals sandwiched in between.

Invicta had previously won 5-0 at South Park back in September after the Reigate club had won promotion from the Combined Counties League last season.

This was always going to be a testing night for the visitors who had lost 2-0 at home to Herne Bay on Tuesday night as they catch up with a fixture backlog.

But the visitors started well and should have been ahead before Invicta took the game away from them with three goals in a six minute spell.

And whilst they were on the end of a heavy defeat South Park were not without their moments from start to finish but finishing was the essential difference between the  two sides.

A subplot of the match was the presence of the Ryman League Division One South’s two leading goalscorers – South Park’s Chris Smith and Invicta’s Draycott. For Smith it was a night of missed chances, whilst Draycott scored the pick of the goals to go level on 25 goals at the top of the division’s goalscoring charts.

Invicta made one change to the starting eleven that had been unable to find the target at Corinthian-Casuals on Saturday as regular right back Josh Vincent came back in for James Everitt.

But it was South Park who had the better of the early chances as Dave Smith took the ball on and hit a low shot at Invicta goalkeeper Tim Roberts in the fifth minute.

There was then a big moment three minutes later when Jack Higgins played a good ball out of defence to Joe Jackson on the right hand side who squared the ball across to unmarked top goalscorer Smith inside the penalty area but the striker shot wastefully over the crossbar.

Invicta gained the game’s first corner in the ninth minute when Wright’s set piece from the right hand side was headed over by Pilbeam.

South Park attacked again in the 14th minute when Dave Smith picked Jackson out on the right hand side and the latter’s well-struck shot was saved by Roberts.

But the Folkestone side took control as an Ashley Miller corner from the right fell to Chappell at the far post on the quarter of an hour mark and the central defender shot into the side netting.

Draycott then found Pilbeam inside the box a minute later and South Park’s Jack Watts threw himself at the ball to stop the subsequent shot.

The opening goal came in the 20th minute courtesy of PILBEAM who had switched to the left hand side and let fly when the ball broke to him and gained the benefit of a wicked deflection that looped the ball over goalkeeper James Wastell and into the net.

Further goals soon followed as a 22nd minute Pilbeam free kick from the right hand side was headed in by EVERITT after a foul on Miller.

Dale Burgess took the ball on at the other end and shot wide from outside the penalty area.

But Invicta soon made it 3-0 as a 25th minute Pilbeam ball in from the right hand side was converted by WRIGHT who continues to impress in his first season at senior level.

It was Invicta’s 100th goal in all competitions so far this season and it was fitting that it to Wright who had opened his account for the club at South Park earlier in the season and now has 11 goals to his name.

The lively Wright was close to striking again a minute later but couldn’t quite get his shot in after Draycott had combined with Pilbeam.

South Park rallied as manager’s son James McElligott’s ball in from the right towards Chris Smith was put out for a corner by Chappell and striker Smith’s shot then lacked power after David Smith had found him in a move started by Burges.

But Invicta threatened again when Everitt rose to meet a 44th minute Miller corner from the right but headed over this time.

Miller then showed skill inside the penalty area to beat Higgins after receiving a 45th minute Vincent ball but his chip across goal was just too high for Draycott.

Invicta soon resumed the initiative after the interval and added to their score as the result of a corner gained when McElligott put the ball out of play when Draycott found Pilbeam and the latter crossed towards Wright.

Miller’s 48th minute corner from the right twice came back off the crossbar via Everitt and goalkeeper Wastell before being put in by CHAPPELL.

Record appearance holder Everitt has not been renowned for his goalscoring prowess in his long Invicta career- this was his 20th goal – but on another night could have had a hat-trick of headers.

Everitt soon made way for Dolan as manager Neil Cugley was keen to use his substitutes at the start of a busy three matches in six days.

Wright and Matt Newman combined to free Pilbeam down the right again in the 54th minute and his ball across goal nearly went in and was also just beyond Draycott at the far post.

Kieran Lavery hit a low 59th minute shot at goalkeeper Roberts from outside the penalty area as South Park sought some sort of lifeline.

And the visitors had another good chance three minutes later when Burgess and David Smith found McElligott on the right and his cross found Jackson at the far post who was unable to find the target.

Popular goalkeeper Wastell – who has done the rounds At Surrey clubs – was becoming something of a cult hero with home supporters and received an ovation when he did well to save from Wright in the 67th minute after Vincent had played the ball in from the right.

A Dolan ball in from the left hand side was then touched wide by fellow Invicta substitute Richard Atkins in the middle a minute later.

A third Invicta substitution saw youth team captain Callum Wraight replace first team skipper Liam Friend at the heart of the defence.

The goal of the game came in the 82nd minute when DRAYCOTT made something out of nothing as he cut in from the right hand side and unleashed a thunderbolt that flew into the far corner of the net for his 33rd goal in 46 matches in all competitions for the club.

Goalscorers are not always renowned for their work rate but with Draycott you get both and he continues to flourish in the forward position that he has long craved.

Draycott has been in the winning side against Invicta in the last two play offs as he has helped both Maidstone United and Leatherhead win promotion. Invicta will be hoping that he goes on to win a unique third successive play off successive with three different clubs on Saturday May 2nd.

Invicta had another chance in the 86th minute when Newman and Pilbeam combined to find Atkins inside the penalty area but Wastell saved.

But there was to be a sixth goal as the ball broke to DOLAN in the 88th minute and he fired a low strike into the net from the edge of the penalty area.

The visitors’ night was summed up during stoppage time when David Smith put Jackson through but he fired over the crossbar.

Invicta have saved some of their best finishing for their games against South Park this season and the aggregate score in the two fixtures against the league newcomers is 11-0 in the Folkestone side’s favour.

I was also a fourth clean sheet in five matches for Invicta since they had uncharacteristically conceded five at Carshalton.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Blanks, Friend (Wraight 75 mins), Chappell, Newman, Wright, Pilbeam, Draycott, Miller (Atkins 60 mins), M. Everitt (Dolan 55 mins).  Unused subs: J. Everitt, Fender.  

SOUTH PARK: Wastell, Watts (Kirby 72 mins), Hatfield, McElligott, Guscott, Higgins, D Smith, Burgess, Lavery, C Smith, Jackson.   Unused subs: Stafford, M Smith. 

Attendance: 207.

Corners: Invicta 4 South Park 5