A goal from defender Callum Davies wasn’t enough to prevent Invicta falling to a second home defeat on the opening week of the season against Isthmian Premier division leaders Enfield Town.
The visitors came into the fixture top of the league and without having conceded a goal following victories over Concord Rangers & Potters Bar Town while Invicta were looking to bounce back from Tuesday night’s dramatic finale that saw Chatham Town take the 3 points from the Alcaline Stadium.
The visitors came into the fixture without last season’s top scorer Jake Cass who announced midweek that he had suffered an Achilles injury during Tuesday night’s win at Potters Bar and his season had been cut short so early.
Invicta made two changes to the side that started on Tuesday night with Jordon Ababio and Ir Jackson Jr replacing Makhosini Ryan-Khanye and Ibrahim Olutade. Kane Penn dropped into left back as Invicta changed shape slightly to accommodate the changes.
It wouldn’t be long before Invicta were enforced to make an early change however, with Ian Gayle unable to play through a knot picked up on Tuesday night and forced off after just 10 minutes to be replaced by Ryan-Khanye who slotted into left back pushing Penn back into midfield with Will Moses then dropping back into the defence alongside Callum Davies.
The first action of the match came shortly before the early change as a long throw from the visitors was headed behind for a corner which was then headed wide by James Richmond.
A few minutes later Richmond hit the bar in quite bizarre circumstances. A wide free kick was punched by Joe Coleman but ricocheted back into the 6 yard box of an Invicta defender, with the Enfield number 6 falling backward he managed to hook the ball goal bound and off the bar before Jordon Ababio hooked clear.
If that was “quite bizarre” what followed was even more so. As the throw in was taken the referee immediately blew his whistle to award a throw to Invicta. It appeared he had instructed Enfield’s number 3 Joseph Payne on where he wanted the throw taken from but the words were not taken on board and so he was penalised. Then just 2 minutes later Enfield were awarded a throw in an identical position and Payne took to marking the spot the referee gave him with his studs, resulting in him receiving the first booking of the afternoon, presumably for sarcasm/dissent rather than damage to the pitch.
After the referee had given his explanation to the Enfield captain Invicta cleared the throw with Callum Davies getting the ball out to Andre Coker on the left. The former Enfield man fed Jordon Ababio who bet the keeper to the ball only to see his effort blocked on the goal-line.
Ababio then turned provider as he was slipped in on the right but his cross evaded everybody before a return cross from the left then headed out for a throw in by the club shop. Invicta won the ball back quickly with Ababio feeding Jackson who fired a left footed effort onto the cross bar from 25 yards.
As we reached the halfway point of the first half Invicta showed their counter attacking prowess again. Enfield were awarded a corner despite Ryan-Khanye’s block appearing to ricochet back off the Enfield man before going out of play. Thankfully controversy was averted as Invicta cleared the set pice with Coker finding Jackson in space with a long diagonal, Invicta’s number 10 cut back to Ababio who couldn’t get a clean strike on his effort that headed just wide.
Enfield responded with an effort from distance from Enfield’s number 8 Sam Youngs who fired just wide just outside the boxed after a cross from the left was cleared. A minute later it was Invicta’s 8 who fired just past the top corner from similar distance, evading Youngs to get his shot off.
Shortly after Davies got his first sight on goal of the afternoon, a long diagonal free kick to the back post was headed back across goal by a defender under pressure, Davies stretched a left leg well to turn it goal bound but a touch from David Smith was not enough to test the Enfield keeper.
Richmond, having been booked for giving away that earlier free kick, was then penalised again for a heavy challenge on Ababio near the corner of the penalty area. The defender stooped his head low to beat Smith the a bouncing ball before going into the challenge that left both he and the Invicta winger on the floor in pain. The referee had discussions with his assistant who was much closer to the incident but decided to take no further action.
Moments later Enfield punished Invicta. Winning the ball back following an Invicta throw on half way, Scott Thomas fed Marcus Wyllie with a through ball down the middle of the Invicta defence that Enfield’s number 10 controlled well to race away from Moses & Davies and finish past Coleman.
A Jackson free kick from the right provided little problem for the Enfield defence but shortly after Jackson won the ball on half way to set himself free down the right, firing a cross-shot after beating his man that eluded Coker in the centre and headed out for a goal kick.
A period of relative quiet drew the entertaining first half to a close with Enfield no doubt happy to go in ahead while Invicta would be ruing missed changes and the concession of a soft goal.
The visitors made a change at the break, replacing Joshua Okotcha with Ekow Coker but it was Invicta who had the first effort of the second half, Jackson running clear of Thomas to get a right footed shot off from 25 yards that evaded Richmond but was a comfortable take for Rhys Forster in the Enfield goal.
Ababio headed an Enfield corner behind for a second attempt which met an attacking head but failed to hit the target.
Invicta’s best football of the second half came in the 56th minutes as Ade Cole won the ball 10 yards inside the Invicta half and finding Kane Penn to start a 12 pass move that ended with Smith hitting an effort from 25 yards that the visiting ‘keeper did well to get down to his left and turn around the post. A series of 4 corners to Invicta ended with Ababio heading wide.
An Enfield free kick from the right saw Coleman collide with Moses as he punched the ball clear, leaving the defender needing some treatment which saw him leave the field briefly. Coleman kicked into touch from the restart which allowed Moses to return to the action but Enfield would immediately take advantage as Invicta settled back down. From the throw a battle for the ball ensued in front of the dugouts with Ryan-Khanye pulled to the ground before Youngs clipped the ball down the line for Wyllie to run onto. Enfield’s 10 beat Moses and drew in Coleman as he neared down on goal but unselfishly squared to Oliver Knight to tap into the net and double Enfield’s lead, leaving Invicta in trouble.
Cole worked well with Coker before delivering an inswinging cross from the left that just needed a touch to trouble the ‘keeper before Enfield went on the attack and drew a foul from Cole that saw him into the referee’s notebook.
With 20 minutes left for Invicta to change the game, top scorer Ibrahim Olutade replaced Jackson in the forward line. Cole was then Penalised for a tackle in which he appeared to get much more of the ball than the man, leaving him visibly frustrated and in the current climate there is always a worry that and protestations can draw a caution that would have been his second.
Olutade then made his impact as he drew a foul from Enfield full back Mickey Parcell wide on the left. Penn’s delivery was headed high into the air before Ababio challenged for the second ball which dropped to Olutade who stuck the post, with Callum Davies in the right place to finish for his first goal since November 2021 (2-2 v Cray Wanderers) and a first at Cheriton Road since October 2017 (3-0 v Leatherhead).
Invicta immediately made a final change of the afternoon with Will Dempsey making his debut, replacing Ryan-Khayne.
Olutade’s fresh legs continues to cause problems for Enfield, the forward having a coming together with Richmond as they chased a ball over the top before picking himself up to chase the loose ball and drawing a challenge from Parcell to win a corner. Moments later he was in again from a Smith flick on before cutting back to Smith who fired tamely wide.
As 6 minutes of stoppage time was announced a roar of hope rang around the ground but Invicta found themselves unable to conjure 1 final chance to equalise, with the visitors holding on to take all 3 points and maintain their position at the top of the Isthmian Premier Division with a 100% record.
Invicta now look to regroup as we head towards a busy August Bank Holiday weekend with a trip to Basildon to face Hashtag United followed by a second Kent Derby of the season as we host Margate on Bank Holiday Monday.
Defender and goalscorer Callum Davies was awarded Man of the Match by members of the Folkestone Invicta Supporters Club committee.