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THREE BRIDGES 1

FOLKESTONE INVICTA 1

An 88th minute equaliser from new striker Ian Draycott rescued a point for Folkestone Invicta in their opening Ryman League Division One South fixture of the season at Three Bridges on Saturday afternoon.

Invicta had trailed to a 36th minute Nigel Brake penalty as Neil Cugley embarked on his 18th season as manager of the Folkestone club.

Draycott - pictured - has won promotion via three play offs in the past two seasons with Leatherhead and Maidstone United, beating Invicta along the way on both occasions.

He scored 11 goals in Invicta’s seven pre-season friendlies to leave the Folkestone side heading into the new season with great optimism despite the departure of teenage striker Johan Ter Horst to Hull City.

Trademark

And DRAYCOTT was on the league goalscoring charts at the first time of asking with a timely strike when he hooked the ball in after a trademark Chris Elliott long throw in from inside Invicta’s own half was helped on by Frankie Chappell and partially headed away by home centre half Sam MacVicar.

The home side had opened the scoring at Jubilee Fields when one-time Crawley Town player BRAKE converted from the spot after Invicta captain Liam Friend was penalised for wrestling with MacVicar following a John Lansdale corner.

With Darren Smith unavailable, Invicta started with player-assistant manager Roland Edge at left back and both Nat Blanks and Dane Luchford in the starting eleven.

Invicta had won all four previous meetings against Three Bridges, with their previous two away visits coming at the end of the season as the Folkestone side has closed in on a play off place. But Three Bridges have always looked dangerous going forward and here paired an Invicta legend Allan Tait in attack with new signing Ben Godfrey, formerly with Whitehawk and Lewes.

Responsibilities

It was in goal where Three Bridges were potentially at their most vulnerable as Jordan Morey came in for his debut due to injuries to the home side’s regular two custodians. Manager Paul Faili, who has also now taken on Chairman responsibilities, also gave four other players their debuts.

But Invicta could not get their passing game as fluent as they would have wanted and were not as potent as they are capable of being, though Draycott had a first half strike and Josh Vincent headed wide.

It was Three Bridges who got the lead and goalscorer Brake had another late chance when his header was kept out by Invicta goalkeeper Tim Roberts after an 82nd minute Lansdale corner.

Three Bridges had the ball in the net on two further occasions but Matt Daniel and Godfrey were both denied due to infringements on goalkeeper Roberts.

Lansadle was close when his well-struck shot from substitute Abu Touray’s cross was deflected away.

But Draycott’s equaliser saved the day for Invicta and the visitors almost stole a winning goal but home goalkeeper Morey touched over a late Friend header.

Substitutes

Invicta used all three substitutes as Jon Pilbeam came on for his debut at half time in place of Blanks and Elliott and Michael Yianni later replaced edge and Luchford respectively.

Last season Invicta had led 2-0 at Crawley Down Gatwick on the opening day of the season midway through the second half before losing 3-2. The home side’s manager that day Simon Wormull is now first team coach at Three Bridges who this time had to endure a late goal to deny a home victory.

There were bookings for Three Bridges’ Brake and Jamie Creliln and for Invicta’s Friend and Micheal Everitt.

THREE BRIDGES: Morey, Peauroux, Whitehead, Brake, MacVicar, Lansdale, Crellin, Carney, Tait, Godfrey, Daniel (Touray 58 mins). 

Unused subs: Pulling, Leach, Cooke, Djimah.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Edge (Elliott 69 mins), Friend, Chappell, Newman, Luchford (Yianni 75 mins), Blanks (Pilbeam 45 mins), Draycott, Booth, M Everitt.  

Unused sub: Coyne.

Attendance: 165.