Invicta’s pre-season preparations continued on Tuesday evening with our first ever visit to Hollands & Blair’s Star Meadow, departing Gillingham with a 5-2 win and more minutes under the belt as we hit the halfway point of our 8-match warm up schedule.
Invicta made several changes to the XI that started against Dover Athletic on Saturday. Both trialist full backs who had completed 90 minutes at Crabble were replaced and Callum Davies taking Ian Gayle’s spot alongside Jake Goodman at the heart of the defence, his first start since the end of last season. Ira Jackson Jr came in for Saturday’s goalscorer Ade Cole as Invicta picked an attacking lineup featuring four forwards.
Invicta had a bright start; Andre Coker the first to force either keeper into action with a left footed effort through a crowd of players and David Smith soon has the ball in the net after an effort from Ibrahim Olutade came back off the post but the flag was up for an offside somewhere in the build up.
Within seconds the hosts took the lead as a cutback to the edge of the box was rattled against the crossbar by new Blair signing Alfie Giles, only to hit Invicta keeper Joe Coleman on the back and bounce over the line.
Invicta weren’t behind for long however as Scott Heard’s delivery from a wide free kick caused problems for the Blair defence, with the ball eventually being tapped home by Callum Davies.
It was another Heard free kick that lead to Invicta taking the lead midway through he first half, a short pass into Ira Jackson Jr who appeared to be looking for a ball into Smith, but the pass eluded Invicta’s number 9 and instead found its way in behind the Blair defence and into the path of Coker who rolled it around the keeper before finishing into and empty net.
Invicta went on to dominate the ball for the remainder of the half but the only real action for either keeper was a save from a Smith effort just before the half hour mark. Ira Jackson went close to adding the third with an effort that hit the outside of the post with the final kick off the half.
Invicta made two changes at the break with Smith & Olutade being replaced by a trialist & Jordan Ababio.
Soon after the restart Invicta worked Andre Coker in on the left hand side to fire a low ball across the face of goal and it proved to be a warning that Blair did not take. Starting from a short goal kick from Joe Coleman Invicta worked the ball in behind the host’s right back with Coker finding Ababio six yards from goal for him to turn past the keeper to extend Invicta’s lead.
It only took a few minutes for Ababio to add his second. Trialist 14 reacted quickly run onto a poor header back to the Blair keeper but his effort came back off the post and fell nicely for Ababio to slot into an empty net.
A series of changes then came for Invicta as Lenny Atherton replaced Coker in the attack, followed by both trialist fullbacks making way and then academy scholar Brad Walledge replacing Ira Jackson Jr.
Ababio threatened to complete a hat-trick with a turn and shot in the area that headed just wide of the target before Giles threatened Coleman’s goal again, this time with an effort from distance that the Invicta keeper tipped just wide for a corner.
Ababio then rounded off a good second half performance as he took a ball down the right from Invicta’s substitute right back, proved too quick & strong for his defender and managed to find Trialist 14 inches out to add a fifth for the night.
Walledge then went close to adding another as he worked a shooting opportunity on his left foot but was his effort superbly saved. From the resulting corner a header back across goal from Jake Goodman saw Atherton try a spectacular overhead kick but the effort looped into the arms of the Blair keeper.
It was the hosts who would complete the night’s scoring however as a ball down Invicta’s left was cut across goal and finished by no. 19 with less than 5 minutes to play.
A good number of travelling Invicta supporters left Star Meadow happy with a first ever visit, while the Mev & Edgy will no doubt be happy with a pre-season win, 5 goals and more minutes in the legs as we enter the final stages of our pre-season, with Faversham Town to come at the Alcaline Stadium on Saturday.
You can hear the post-match thoughts of Micheal Everitt on Invicta TV