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Promoted by Midland Sporting Association, Waterloo Road Wolverhampton WV1 4QR

It’s a Bridge too far as gloating Sussex outfit's play-acting and gamesmanship leave a nasty taste in the mouth for home supporters

FOLKESTONE INVICTA 1

THREE BRIDGES 2

Folkestone Invicta’s unbeaten home Ryman League Division One South record for 2014-15 came to an end when they went down 2-1 at homed to ten man Three Bridges at The Fullicks Stadium.

This rare home setback for Neil Cugley’s side came just four days after they had been beaten 1-0 on their own patch by Burgess Hill Town in the FA Trophy.

Invicta had gone into the game with eight wins and a draw out of their nine home league matches and with just one home defeat in their last 28 matches – a 3-1 reverse against Chipstead back in April.

That remarkable run had yielded 71 points out of a possible 78 at home.

But Three Bridges were left celebrating a famous victory – their first over Invicta – thanks to two bizarre goals - and that despite having defender Charlie Leach sent off for two yellow cards.

Striker Tony GARROD scored the winning goal in the 76th minute when he took the ball on and put it into an empty net after home goalkeeper Tim Roberts had come out but missed the ball and kicked only thin air as he attempted to clear.

The ball had come back to Roberts after his initial free kick.

This second gift of a goal lifted the visitors just three minutes after they had been reduced to ten men when left back Leach was sent off after a lunge at Micheal Everitt close to the touchline resulted in a second booking.

Leach had earlier been cautioned in the 36th minute for impeding Roberts as the goalkeeper attempted to clear.

Cautioned

It was the fourth fixture out of their last seven in which Invicta had found themselves up against ten men.

Three Bridges had opened the scoring in the 54th minute when right back John LANSDALE scored something of a wonder goal as he burst through the middle unchallenged from deep inside his own half and rounded it off by firing a great strike into the net.

Invicta were level in the 69th minute when recent signing Ronnie Dolan made it two goals in two appearances for the club since joining from Hastings United.

Dolan was making his first starting appearance for Invicta having been cup-tied for Tuesday night’s tie against Burgess Hill.

Everitt and Matt Newman were also back in the centre of midfield as Callum Wraight, Darren Smith and the unavailable Jordan Wright made way.

The visitors made a positive start as a good fifth minute ball from Garrod put Abu Touray through down the right hand side but Roberts saved.

Williams Peauroux was then not too far away with a good strike from outside the penalty area three minutes later.

Invicta were themselves close in the 14th minute when the ball fell to Ian Draycott but visiting goalkeeper Kieron Thorp got across to save and touch the ball away.

Three Bridges centre half Callum Donaghey then put the ball out for a corner when Jon Pilbeam drilled it in from the right hand side after passes from Everitt and Paul Booth.

Lanky visiting centre forward Sam MacVicar - centre half and man of the match when the sides met at Three Briidges n August - then fired over when the ball fell to him on the right a minute later.

A flurry of bookings followed around the half an hour mark as Three Bridges Ben Godfrey was the first to receive a yellow card for clattering into Nat Blanks.

Invicta’s Everitt then followed him into the notebook for a challenge on Leach that upset the visitors.

Leach was then himself cautioned which was to come back to haunt him.

Newman fired high and wide when the ball broke to him after Blanks had played it into Booth, while at the other end Roberts saved a well-struck Peauroux shot when MacVicar played the ball out to Touray on the right.

Three Bridges had a chance early in the second half when MacVicar played the ball in from the right and Touray got a slight touch but could not make enough contact at the far post.

Corner

Pilbeam then put a low ball in from the right for Invicta but Donaghey got the ball out for a corner in the 52nd minute.

Lansdale then put Three Bridges ahead as Invicta again found themselves with a lot to do during the second half at home as they had in recent fixtures against Walton Casuals, Corinthian Casuals and Burgess Hill.

The visitors went close again in the 57th minute when MacVicar drilled a low ball in from the right and Invicta captain Liam Friend blocked from his Three Bridges counterpart Lee Carney. The stretching Godfrey just failed to convert at the far post.

A Newman free kick from the right was then met by Draycott but Thorp kept out the header.

Touray curled a shot wide of the far post from the left hand side when MacVicar played the ball out wide in the 62nd minute, while a good Josh Vincent ball found Pilbeam down the right a minute later and the latter’s cross evaded everybody in the middle and went past the far post.

Invicta had a big chance to equalise in the 65th minute when Blanks shot against the crossbar after getting into the penalty area following an exchange of passes with Booth.

The equaliser duly arrived when Pilbeam combined with Booth and played the ball across goal for sponsors  Grove Grovellers' man of of the match DOLAN - right - to level the scores from arguably the best move of the game.

When Leach was sent off the momentum was firmly with Invicta and a booking for Touray soon followed.

But Three Bridges’ shock second goal proved decisive.

The visitors had another chance when the ball broke to substitute Mark Pulling in the 81st minute but Roberts saved.

A drilled 84th minute effort from Pilbeam was blocked when Frankie Chappell touched the ball back as all four Invicta defenders – Chappell, Vincent, Friend and Blanks – were involved in the early build up.

Peauroux then became the fourth different Three Bridges player to be booked.

Invicta then themselves had two more players booked during stoppage time – just four minutes when it could easily have been double that – as Friend was cautioned for pulling Pulling back and Newman was also booked for his part in the ensuing melee as his indiscretion was spotted by an assistant referee.

Leading scorer Draycott - who had a fairly quiet game here - had scored a late equaliser to save the day for Invicta at Three Bridges on the opening day of the season but this time there was to be no such escape route.

Perhaps Invicta didn't deserve to win this game but they certainly didn't deserve to lose it any more than this unpleasant bunch merited all three points.

And probably the least said about referee Steve Brown's inability to get a grip on proceedings the better. Flinging cards about like confetti was no effective substitute for the official's failure to take anything like effective control at any stage of this ugly affair.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Blanks (Taylor 88 mins), Friend, Chappell, Newman, Dolan, Pilbeam, Draycott, Booth, M. Everitt. Unused subs: Wraight, Fedor, Palmer, Fender. 

THREE BRIDGES: Thorp, Lansdale, Leach, Crellin, Donaghey, Godfrey, Touray (Pulling 78 mins), Carney, MacVicar, Garrod (Daniel 90 mins), Peauroux.  Unused subs: Roberts, Wormull.

Attendance: 239.

Corners: Invicta 8 Three Bridges 2