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Thurrock's fightback is too little too late as Southern Division form side end Northern visitors' winning run

FOLKESTONE INVICTA 3

THURROCK 2

Folkestone Invicta survived a late comeback against ten man Thurrock to make further progress in the FA Trophy after an incident packed First Qualifying Round tie at The Fullicks Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Neil Cugley’s side led 3-0 thanks to goals from Jon Pilbeam, left,.Jordan Wright and captain Frankie Chappell and Thurrock had right back Lewis Clark sent off during the first half.

But Thurrock put respectability on the scoreline with late goals from Mark Onyemah and captain Lewwis Spence before time ran out on the visitors to deny them a memorable comeback.

Clark was given a straight red card for a reckless 29th minute challenge on Matt Newman by the dressing room touchline.

By then Invicta had already opened the scoring as PILBEAM scored at home for the second successive Saturday when he slipped the ball into the net after a neat 22nd minute one-two with Paul Booth.

Clark’s dismissal put Thurrock in further trouble but the visitors were still well in the game at half time.

Invicta needed a second goal and did not have long to wait for it after the interval. It was WRIGHT who made it 2-0 in the 48th minute when he slammed the ball into the net after the ball came back out when visiting goalkeeper Jordon Warren had saved after Pilbeam had drilled the ball in from the right in a move also involving Josh Vincent and Booth.

CHAPPELL (below right) then increased the lead further with what turned out to be the winning goal when the central defender headed in a 62nd minute Wright corner from the left hand side.

Striker ONYEMAH pulled a goal back from the left hand side of the penalty area in the 80th minute after a move involving Spence and top goalscorer Ross Wall.

Captain SPENCE made it 3-2 during stoppage time when he slid the ball into the net from the left hand side after an Onyemah header to leave the visitors further wondering what might have been.

This always looked like being a fascinating match up between the clubs placed third in both the Ryman League Division One South and North.

Thurrock manager Mark Stimson’s previous visit to Cheriton Road had been in a pre-season friendly when manager of Gillingham. Stimson has won the F. A. Trophy three times as a manager – twice with Grays Athletic and once at Stevenage Borough – and his side has scored a lot and conceded few so far this season. They went into this match on the back of a run of eight successive wins.

There was important team news on both sides as Invicta were without absent skipper Liam Friend and Thurrock had regular goalkeeper Andy Walker suspended.

The visitors had to make a further enforced change as James Goode was injured in the warm up and was replaced in the starting eleven by Greig Stewart who had initially been named as a substitute.

Invicta brought 17-year-old Callum Wraight in to replace Friend for what was only his second senior starting appearance and the home club could not name a full quota of substitutes.

Thurrock has a strong side and made a purposeful tart.

But Invicta were close in the 13th minute as a Booth shot was cleared off the line and when the ball came back out Ian Draycott’s follow up was headed off the line by Rob Gilman.

At the other end, Lamar Reynolds cut in from the right a minute later and his shot across goal was turned past the post by home goalkeeper Tim Roberts.

Reynolds then fired over from the left hand side of the penalty area on the quarter of an hour mark after former Gillingham defender Simon King played the ball into his path following a corner on the right.

King then picked up a fairly innocuous yellow card a minute later as Thurrock’s troubles began.

Invicta had weathered the early storm and the tide began to turn.

An 18th minute Wright shot dipped over the crossbar from 30 yards and Pilbeam had a near miss a minute later when his shot across goal from the right hand side flashed just wide of the far post after a Newman ball forward.

Pilbeam, though, who has played at Wembley with Tunbridge Wells in the FA Vase Final, soon broke the deadlock.

Stewart was then booked two minutes later for a foot up challenge on Wright. Newman’s subsequent free kick was turned over by Chappell at the far post.

Invicta striker Draycott was booked by referee Matt Goldsmith for a 28th minute foul, but it was Clark’s straight red a minute later that proved more significant.

From the free kick that followed the dismissal Wright headed over after Chappell had headed on the set piece from the left.

Pilbeam played a dangerous 33rd minute ball across goal after a Booth pass in a move started by Draycott.

Thurrock reacted to going down to ten men by bringing substitute Robert Clark on for Reynolds.

Spence dispossessed Booth in the 34th minute and the former’s well-struck shot was touched past the post for a corner by Roberts.

But Invicta finished the first half strongly as Nat Blanks played a 37th minute ball in to Draycott and the latter’s initial well-struck shot was blocked and his follow up saved.

Pilbeam then tried top pick his spot in the 41st minute but his shot flashed just wide from the edged of the penalty area after another Blanks ball.

Invicta had the ball in the net again at the start of the second half when Wright found Booth down the left hand side and his ball across goal was put in by the offside Draycott.

But the home side was soon 2-0 ahead as Wright scored again having opened his senior account in the 5-0 midweek win at South Park.

Booth played a great 54th minute ball down the left hand side to Wright who, with his confidence up, elected to shoot and the ball then fell to right back Vincent whose well-struck shot was blocked by Clark.

Manager’s son Charlie Stimson was then booked for a 57th minute challenge on Vincent that looked at least the equal of that of Clark’s first half misdemeanour.

Invicta were on top as Pilbeam let fly from the right hand edge of the penalty area and shot just past the far post after receiving the ball from Micheal Everitt in the 59th minute.

Pilbeam then cut outside defender King after receiving the ball from Everitt again on the hour mark and his shot from the right was saved at the near post for a corner by Warren.

Draycott cut in from the left hand side of the penalty area when the set piece came across and his shot was saved for another corner.

Chappell’s goal then appeared to have put the result beyond doubt. Both sides then made a substitution after the goal as Joe Taylor came on for Booth and Brad Warner for Stimson.

Thurrock rallied asking put the ball over after a 67th minute Clark corner from the left.

Roberts then pusher the ball onto the crossbar four minutes later to deny Clark after an Onyemah ball and the Invicta goalkeeper Roberts eventually dived on the ball on the line after he and Chappell had attempted to avert the danger.

Invicta threatened again as Pilbeam fired another shot in after receiving a 73rd minute Draycott ball but Warren saved with his legs.

The home side brought Reece Palmer on for Vincent, with Wright reverting to full back.

Palmer was soon involved as he made room for himself down the left hand side of the penalty area in the 79th minute and shot into the side netting at the near post.

18-year-old Palmer had scored four goals for Invicta I this season’s F. A. Youth Cup at Tooting. The last youngster to achieve that for Invicta in that competition was a certain Johan Ter Horst, now of Hull City, who was in attendance for this tie.

Onyemah’s goal reduced the deficit but Invicta went forward again in the 86th minute when Pilbeam played the ball out to Draycott on the right and the latter’s deep cross was headed just wide by Palmer.

Thurrock’s Wall found Onyemah inside the penalty area but Wraight made a good 87th minute tackle.

When a 25-yard Spence free kick flew wide in the 90th minute it looked as though Thurrock’s hopes of a grandstand finish had gone.

A stoppage time Pilbeam shot was caught by Warren after an exchange of passes between substitutes Taylor and Pilbeam down the left.

Spence’s late goal keep Thurrock in the tie until the final whistle.

There was still time for Pilbeam to pick up a late booking on what was a busy afternoon for the referee.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent (Palmer 74 mins), Blanks, Wraight, Chappell, Newman, Wright, Pilbeam, Draycott, Booth (Taylor 63 mins), M. Everitt.  Unused sub: Fender. 

THURROCK: Warren, L Clark, Waters (Sutton 52 mins), Gilman, King, Stewart, Reynolds (R Clark 33 mins), Spence, Onyemah, Wall, Stimson (Warner 63 mins).  Unused subs: Goode, Osonowo.

Attendance: 248.

Corners: Invicta 6 Thurrock 6