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FOLKESTONE INVICTA 2

WALTON & HERSHAM 1

Folkestone Invicta gained a hard-earned victory over Walton & Hersham at The Fullicks Stadium in the Ryman League Division One South on Tuesday night.

When Ian Draycott put Invicta ahead as early as the fourth minute it briefly looked as though it might be a fairly comfortable night for Neil Cugley’s side.

But this was not to be the case as the visitors enjoyed the bulk of possession and will have left the ground bemoaning the fact that they had come away empty-handed.

Invicta had brought Jon Pilbeam and Dane Luchford into the starting line up for Connor Coyne and the unavailable Matt Newman.

And the home side got off to a great start as DRAYCOTT - pictured left - flicked his header into the net after a Pilbeam cross from the left.

It was Draycott’s seventh goal in his opening ten games for Invicta since joining the club from Leatherhead during the summer and his fifth goal in the last six matches.

Charley Robertson, on loan at Invicta from Maidstone United, then had a shot blocked after receiving the ball from Pilbeam a minute later.

At the other end, central defender Frankie Chappell blocked a Tony Reid shot a minute later.

Invicta threatened again on the quarter of an hour mark when Nat Blanks found Luchford on the left and the latter’s cross was nearly met by another Draycott header, with Pilbeam then having a shot blocked.

The visitors then started to make in-roads of their own as Andrew Mensah hooked the ball wide after Jack Battie sent over the game’s first corner from the right hand side.

Centre half Daniel Ranger got to a 27th minute Battie free kick before home goalkeeper Tim Roberts but the ball flew over the crossbar.

The Swans’ goalkeeper Gary Ross saved a Blanks shot from the left hand side in the 37th minute after Luchford had a shot blocked when Blanks played the ball up to Draycott and Pilbeam ran at the defence.

André Scarlett shot over the bar after a 40th minute cross from Andrew Juett on the right and a cross from the left was just too high for centre forward Reid in the middle during first half stoppage time.

There was a scare for Invicta just after half time when Juett got in ahead of Josh Vincent at the far post after a Mensah cross from the left.

At the other end, a Darren Smith from outside the penalty area flashed past the post after a free kick from the right hand side had come back out.

But Invicta had their former Walton & Hersham goalkeeper Roberts to thanks for a great save in the 56th minute as he touched a Juett shot past the post as the visitors were getting closer to an equaliser.

Battie’s subsequent corner from the left hand side struck the back of the crossbar.

Blanks blocked the ball out for a corner when Battie played a free kick in towards captain Vernon Francis on the hour mark following a collision between Blanks and Battie.

Invicta then broke when Luchford played a quick free kick and combined with Draycott but Pilbeam could not quite guide Luchford’s ball in from the left with his flicked effort.

Chances were now coming thick and fast as the visitors had penalty appeals turned down when a Juett cross struck Invicta substitute Jordan Wright on the hand and Draycott shot just over when he let fly from 25 yards.

A clean 67th minute Luchford strike was comfortably held by goalkeeper Ross after a Draycott ball, while Blanks got across to clear from Scarlett a minute later after the ball had been lifted over the Invicta defence.

Folkestone finally increased their lead in the 70th minute when the excellent Wright - received the ball from Draycott and when his shot from the right was saved by Ross, defender Sacha MBAYE touched the ball into his own goal as he ran back in.

Spare a thought for the excellent young Wright - pictured left - who for the second successive Tuesday night had his first senior goal wiped out by the ‘dubious goals committee’. The former Lydd Town player could otherwise have had statistics of two goals from three senior substitute appearances.

The home side’s breathing space was to last for just a minute, though, as MENSAH made it 2-1 from the penalty spot after a foul by Blanks on Juett.

Squandering 2-0 leads has been a feature of Invicta’s recent fixtures and this one could easily have finished as a dralw.

Mensah let fly again from distance but Roberts held on well.

The ball then somehow stayed out of the Invicta goal in the 74th minute when Juett drilled a shot across goal from the right hand side, Roberts saved but did not hold and Reid looked odds on to equalise.

Juett had a good late chance when given on-side inside the penalty area in the 87th minute but was denied by a saving tackle from Chappell.

Walton & Hersham’s Juett was then booked two minutes later as he kicked out at Micheal Everitt as frustration got the better of him.

Juett joined Invicta’s Everitt and Walton &y Hersham’s Scarlett and Battie in referee Aji Ajibola’s notebook.

Invicta’s goalscoring right back Vincent made his 250th starting appearance for the club.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Blanks, Friend, Chappell, Robertson (Wright 50 mins), Luchford (Coyne 78 mins), Smith, Draycott, Pilbeam, M Everitt.  Unused subs: Palmer, Fender.

WALTON & HERSHAM: Ross, Daly, Ogun, Scarlett, Ranger (Salami 45 mins), Mbaye, Battie (Hemmings 79 mins), Francis, Reid (Glace-Palmer 74 mins), Mensah, Juett.  Unused subs: Oyenuga, Osei. 

Attendance: 180

Corners: Invicta 2 Walton & Hersham 5