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Almost a perfect day by the river as Draycott stars on what could be Invicta's last visit to The Waterside (and The Weir) for quite a long time

WALTON CASUALS

FOLKESTONE INVICTA 4

Folkestone Invicta enjoyed a perfect final away fixture of their Ryman League Division One South season as top goalscorer Ian Draycott (pictured) grabbed a hat-trick and strike partner Richard Atkins added another at Walton Casuals.

Faversham’s 2-1 defeat at Hastings meant that Invicta moved three points clear in second place going into the final weekend of the 46-match league programme and are now heavily odds on to finish runners up for a second successive season.

That would mean that Invicta would meet Whyteleafe in the play-off semi finals at The Fullicks Stadium on Tuesday next (April 28), with Kent rivals Faversham now more likely to host Merstham on the same night.

Invicta would then also be at home in the play-off Final on Sarturday, May 2 if successful in their semi-final.

Faversham now need to win big at home to Walton Casuals and hope that Invicta lose at home to champions Burgess Hill Town for that scenario to change – and the goal difference swing would have to be at least five.

Invicta will go into the play offs in good shape and fire spirits.

Neil Cugley’s side have won their last five matches, are unbeaten in 13, have kept four consecutive clean sheets and are now level with Faversham as the division’s top goalscorers.

The trip to Walton Casuals’ Waterside Stadium – often close to the end of the season – has become one of the most popular away trips for Invicta supporters.

This, though, was the Surrey club’s last match at the ground before a possible groundshare with neighbours Walton & Hersham next season and the proposed building of a new sports complex on the present site alongside The Thames.

Invicta have an excellent record at the Waterside Stadium having now won on all six visits in Ryman League Division One South.

Striker Draycott’s personal statistics also make happy reading. This was his third hat-trick for Invicta – all three of them since the start of 2015 but this was his first treble the away from home. And it put the former Maidstone and Leatherhead striker back level with South Park’s Chris Smith on 33 league goals as the race for the Golden Boot goes into the final weekend. Play-off goals do not count for this aware.

And Draycott has scored nine goals in Invicta’s last nine matches and 12 in the last 11 games.

That’s now 41 goals in 54 appearances for the club in what has been an incredible first season since joining from Leatherhead during the summer.

On a sunny but windy afternoon Invicta went into the game with an unchanged starting eleven.

Walton’s Billy Dunn hit a fifth minute shot narrowly wide for the home side when the ball came back out after an initial free kick had been charged down following a foul on Nassim Dukali.

Invicta’s first opening came in the ninth minute when Draycott shot wide after Jordan Wright played the ball forward.

Midfielder Ronnie Dolan then hit a well-struck shot at home goalkeeper Tom Wellham from the right hand side only a minute later.

But the opening goal was not long arriving and on 11 minutes DRAYCOTT cleverly shot through keeper Wellham’s legs after a good through ball from Dolan found him in space with left back Tyler Myers nowhere to be seen as The Stags attempted an offside trap.

Four minutes later Draycott charged down centre half Oluseyi Obgaye-Daley’s attempted clearance mark but Wellham came off his line to save at the expense of the game’s first corner.

Casuals enjoyed a good little spell as Scott Day found striker Gabriel Odunaike and the ball broke for Merrick James-Lewis whose mis-cued shot flew high and wide.

Odunaike produced a clever flick towards Dukali on the half hour mark, but the ever reliable Micheal Everitt slid back to get a touch which went off his own post and out of play for the home side’s first corner of the afternoon.

Medley pulled the ball back to Dukali in the 26th minute but Invicta goalkeeper Tim Roberts got down to save Dukali’s well-struck shot from outside the penalty area.

At the other end, Dolan (left) fired wide after combining with Draycott as Walton captain Quincy Rowe lay injured.

There were chances at both ends in the 44th minute as a Josh Vincent shot was blocked by Myers when the ball fell to the Invicta right back after Matt Newman fed it into the penalty box to Frankie Chappell, while Dukali tried his luck again but shot wide from 30 yards.

And Fokestone doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time as

DRAYCOTT was ruled on-side and rounded goalkeeper Wellham before putting the ball into the net again after Everitt had played the ball up to Atkins.

That was goal number 40 for Draycott in all competitions this season.

Folkestone began the second half strongly as Wright fired wide in the 48th minute when the ball broke to Draycott again and the striker pulled it back to the lively midfielder.

A 50th minute shot from Atkins warmed Wellham’s hands after another good ball from Dolan.

Invicta made it 3-0 just before the hour when ATKINS found the net after the ball had broke to him from Draycott.

It was all now Invicta as Draycott fired wide from the edge of the 18-yard box.

And that man DRAYCOTT made it 4-0 in the 64th minute when he found the net again after a quick free kick by Newman following a foul on Atkins.

Casuals – who had not been lost on their own ground since late January were now looking only for consolation.

A 70th minute effort from Medley was blocked by Newman and then Dunn burst into the penalty area but Everitt chased back to avert the danger.

Dunn’s shot on the turn was comfortably saved by Roberts and a James-Lewis pass found Odunaike in behind Invicta captain Liam Friend a minute later but the striker’s shot lacked the power to beat Roberts.

Roberts (pictured left) then got across to save from Day in the 88th minute and the keeper’s fourth successive shut-out was virtually secure.

Invicta threatened again during stoppage time when fullback Nat Blanks sent sub Jon Pilbeam clear on the left and the winger chose to lay the ball across but just behind Draycott who couldn’t quite flick it in.

Odunaike and Newman were both booked for an unseemly stoppage time spat and Dukali’s subsequent free kick was clawed away from the goal-line by Roberts.

WALTON CASUALS: Wellham, Collins, Myers (Bennett 67), James-Lewis, Obaye-Daley, Rowe, Dukali, Day, Odunaike, Medley (Allen 86), Dunn (Axten 85 ). 

Subs not used: Johnson, H Cheadle. 

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Blanks, Friend, Chappell, Newman, Wright (Pilbeam 65), Dolan, Draycott, Atkins, M Everitt

Subs not used: Miller, Edge, Fender 

Attendance: 132

Corners: Walton Casuals 3 Invicta 4