Pre-season preparations continued on a wet Saturday afternoon as Invicta welcomed Southern Counties East Football League favourites Faversham Town to the Alcaline Stadium.
Invicta lined up with 2 changes to the back 4 that started on Tuesday night, with Ian Gayle replacing Jake Goodman and a change of trialists at right back. Ade Cole returned in midfield and Jordan Ababio started in attack, replacing Ibrahim Olutade who dropped to the bench and Ira Jackson Jr who was unavailable following his wedding on Friday (congratulations Ira!).
The visitors lined up with a host of familiar faces in their lineup. While manager Sammy Moore didn’t name himself in the matchday squad and despite injuries to midfielder Sam Hasler and forward Shola Ayoola, Faversham still managed to line up with over 1,000 appearances for Invicta in their starting XI. Former Invicta number 1 Bailey Vose started in goal, veteran defender Josh Vincent in a back 3 and a midfield that included Matt Newman & Ashley Miller. Kieron McCann completed the lineup of former Invicta men, starting on the bench.
With the rain hammering down and spectators taking shelter in the Remland & Brian Merryman Stands, Invicta kicked off but, in similar fashion to Tuesday night, it was the SCEFL side who took an early lead. Ian Gayle shut down an effort from Ashley Miller just outside area, the ball span out wide to Faversham’s left wingback Matt Parsons to deliver and Gary Lockyer met it a few yards out to bundle over the line and give the visitors the lead.
It took Invicta less time than in midweek to strike back, however. An outswinging corner from Andre Coker was headed clear but only as far as Ade Cole who met it sweetly on the edge of the box to fire through the crowd of players, via a deflection, for his second goal of pre-season.
The visitors then caused problems with a corner of their own just a minute later but captain Conner Essam could only manage to head onto the deserted terrace behind the goal. Invicta ‘keeper Joe Coleman was forced into action shortly after, having been adjudged to have brought down a Faversham forward just outside the box (replays suggest otherwise), Coleman calmly saved the effort on goal from defender Jake McIntyre.
It was in the 17th minute that Invicta would take the lead. Andre Coker collected the ball with his back to goal in the middle of the Faversham half and was given the space to turn and accelerate through the defence before finishing into the bottom corner for his second goal of the week.
The visitors remained a threat, a free kick from deep was headed back across the area by Josh Vincent who watched the return header drop out of the sky for a volley on his left foot, but it proved a comfortable save for Coleman.
David Smith got his first real sight of goal in the 26th minute as a big defensive header from Ian Gayle was nodded into his path by Jordan Ababio. Smith managed to get an effort off despite pressure from Vincent & McIntyre but saw it head just wide of Vose’s post.
It was a different outcome 12 minutes later, as Kane Penn and Mo Kamara went for a loose ball the Faversham midfielder’s touch sent the ball in behind the defence for Smith, who would likely have been flagged offside had it been Penn to reach the ball first. This time the “Bagsman” made no mistake and finished under the ‘keeper to get himself up and running.
Shortly after, the visitors were again given a dubious free kick in a dangerous area but this time it was Lockyer who failed to hit the target with his header. It was his strike partner Jefferson Aibangbee who would have the final chance of the first half, pulling into space between Invicta’s defence before Coleman closed the angle and made himself big enough to save the effort before Lockyer followed up with and effort that was blocked by Ade Cole.
With the rain letting up during the interval and supporters heading out onto the open terraces (a decision that would only last for a few minutes into the second half once the rain returned), Invicta remained unchanged after the break while Faversham replaced wingback Matt Parsons with midfielder Billy Bennett.
The first effort of the second half came from Coker, with his pace causing problems for the Faversham defence he won a free kick 30 yards from goal but he fired his effort just over the crossbar.
The visitors then threatened as a cross from the right found Miller, now operating on the left, who managed to drag the ball inside an onrushing Coleman but only into the challenge of Andy Drury. The visitors retained possession and worked a shot from Kamara from distance that was comfortably taken by Coleman.
Coker departed to be replaced by Ibrahim Olutade who would immediately go on to play a part in Invicta’s 4th. A driven pass from Ian Gayle found the forward on the left before he turned and played in the trialist left back to cross. The low ball evaded everybody until it was met by Ababio on the penalty spot who finished with his left foot into the top corner.
Invicta continued to cause problems down the left, this time Olutade and the trialist left back worked a move with Smith who fed it back to the trialist who fired just over. That would prove to be Smith’s final action as he, Drury and Davies were soon replaced by Jake Goodman and 2 trialists.
Invicta’s 5th would be Ababio’s 4th of the week. Trialist 3 and Ade Cole combined to win the ball before Trialist 18 found a pass in to Olutade who beat his man and found Ababio wide on the right. The winger cut inside and from the edge of the box bent a left footed effort into the bottom corner before heading straight off the pitch to be replaced by Lenny Atherton while Trialist 20 replaced Ade Cole in the midfield.
Invicta completed the scoring from the spot. Olutade caused more problems on the left and eventually went down in the area before picking himself up to send Vose the wrong way.
Invicta’s trialist right back almost added another with the final kick of the match with a cross that landed just over the crossbar but the score would remain at 6 for the afternoon, 11 goals for the week.
Jordan Ababio was selected as Man of the Match by match sponsor Angela Gladwin.
Next up for Invicta is a trip to Maidstone United on Tuesday night before returning home on Saturday as we host Hythe Town in our Sid Burvill Trophy fixture.