Weather, food, music, a bumper crowd and an Invicta win all came together to provide the perfect Bank Holiday Monday at the Alcaline Stadium as Mev & Edgy’s team secured a win over Margate for the third time in 2023.
A crowd of 1,112 filtered through to turnstiles as news came through that captain Ian Gayle would miss the match, with Will Moses joining Callum Davies at the heart of the Invicta defence, while Scott Heard returned from a 4-match suspension to make his first appearance of the season in midfield alongside former Margate men Andy Drury and Ade Cole. Freddy Barton, another ex-Margate player, continued at right back with Kane Penn on the left while a David Smith, also briefly at Hartsdown Park last season, lead the line flanked by Jordon Ababio and Ibrahim Olutade. Joe Coleman of course started in goal following his clean sheet on Saturday, and also having not conceded in 2 games against The Gate last season.
The visitors lined up without defender Montel Agyemang who broke his leg during Friday night’s defeat to Cheshunt. Daniel Duncanson came into an otherwise unchanged side for Gate manager Reece Prestedge who was looking for his first win against Invicta since taking over at Hartsdown Park.
Pre-match jeers rang around the terraces as Margate captain Sam Blackman chose to switch ends at kick off and supporters were still making their way towards the Cricket Ground End as a corner won by Jordon Ababio met the head of Andy Drury before sailing harmlessly wide.
Invicta continued to apply early pressure as Ibrahim Olutade closed down Margate’s right back, with the loose ball finding David Smith who fed it back to his winger who failed to hit the target from a tight angle.
On the 7 minute mark Invicta got into the Margate area again, Smith fed with his back to goal he turned defender Tyrone Sterling who had his arms all over Invicta’s number 9, bringing him to the ground but not enough for the referee to point to the spot. Invicta delivered a couple of corners in the aftermath but failed to make either count.
Despite the early dominance from Invicta it was Margate who had the first clear cut chance. Coleman comfortably claimed a cross from the left but his throw slipped from his hand but Antonis Vasiliou failed to take what would be a rare opportunity for the visitors as his rushed effort, under pressure from Coleman, sailed harmlessly wide.
Invicta responded immediately as Ababio got his first sight of goal. A move worked through Penn, Smith, Heard and Barton found Invicta’s winger with his back to goal in the box before he turned and beat defender Harry Hudson to get off a stinging effort that was well saved by ‘keeper Harry Seaden.
Scott Heard got his first sight of goal on the 15 minute mark, picking up the ball inside the centre circle he was allowed to travel completely unchallenged before unleashing an effort 25 yards from goal the Seaden parried to safety.
Margate came closest to scoring as an effort from Steve Cawley came back off the crossbar. The centre forward ran onto a ball inside the Invicta area and got off and effort under pressure from Callum Davies that looped onto the far end of the woodwork and bounced to safety.
Heard responded with an effort from a very similar position to his first, maybe a little closer but failed to his the target.
A Drury free kick taken short to Ade Cole found its way back to Invicta’s veteran midfielder who delivered a ball to the back post that Smith headed just over the crossbar. A few minutes later Smith’s running battle with the Margate defence drew the first booking of the afternoon aa Harry Hudson fouled the forward on the halfway line. Be it for the mould itself, multiple offences or for the reaction of the Margate man, the referee dipped into his pocket for a yellow card.
Ababio, who troubled the left side of Margate’s defence all afternoon, created the next chance for Invicta as he got in behind and cut back to Olutade who saw his effort blocked into the path of Smith who in turn saw his blocked for a corner. From the ensuing corner Will Moses rose highest to meet to ball with his looping header tipped over the crossbar to safety by Seaden, who was awarded a goal kick to the bemusement of a packed terrace behind the goal.
Invicta were beginning to turn up the pressure as we headed towards half time and headed straight back towards the margate goal from the kick. Heard fed a perfect ball inside the Margate left back and Ababio turned on the afterburners to breeze past his man and force another save from Seaden. The ball was eventually cleared back wide with Ababio chasing and the winger won a free kick that was delivered by Drury and headed wide by Olutade who looked crestfallen that he had not given Invicta the lead.
Again Invicta returned a goal kick towards the Margate goal and again it was Heard who fed Ababio who drove his effort low across the 6 yard box, just out of reach of a sliding Olutade.
Just as it appeared an Invicta goal was only a matter of time, the visitors were gifted the chance to punish our profligacy as Heard beat Phil Roberts to a loose ball and went over the Margate man, putting Vasiliou through on goal but Coleman was alert and smothered the chance.
As the clock hit the 45 minute mark Hudson was possibly lucky not to be in the dressing room a few minutes before his teammates. Olutade looked to bring down a long pass from Callum Davies but Hudson came through the back of the Invicta forward.
The final action of the 2 minutes added time saw Cawley inches away from getting on the end of a Roberts cross from the right. Margate would certainly go in at half time feeling they could have been ahead despite Invicta having dominated the entirety of the first half.
Ababio began the second half as he spent much of the first, frightening his full back to win Invicta a corner but it was Margate’s 11 Ben Greenhalgh who was the first to test a keeper, curling a tame effort into the arms of Joe Coleman from 20 yards.
Invicta’s first threat of the half came via a ball from the left that Hudson could only flick into the path of Smith. Again with Sterling all over him he managed to stay on his feet and keep the ball in play before attempting to roll the ball back into Olutade before Hudson’s intervention ricocheted the ball over the crossbar.
Drury delivered the resulting corner to the back post and it was captain Callum Davies who rose highest above his marker to head back across goal and into the net via the head of a defender. Invicta’s social media admin tried to award the goal to Invicta’s number 5 but unfortunately it went down as an own goal, originally awarded to Harry Hudson although replays who it was in fact Archie Johnson who got the touch. Sorry Callum.
Invicta began to ramp up the pressure on a wounded Margate side. A deflected effort from Ade Cole on the edge of the box span wide to Jackson, who had replaced Ababio in the aftermath of the goal, with the Invicta winger driving inside along the edge of the Margate area before eventually getting off a shot that was deflected onto Scott Heard, dropped to David Smith who then saw his shot blocked back to Heard who fired over.
Margate went forward to try and apply some pressure of their own but were swiftly hit on the counter, with Smith laying off a clearance to Jackson who sprayed the ball wide left to Olutade who carried it half the length of the pitch but was unable to properly test the keeper with his effort from a tight angle.
Ade Cole then fired over from the edge of the box following a cleared corner as he looked for a goal against his former club.
Scott Heard continued to show the quality Invicta had been missing during his 4-match ban as he set up 2 chances in quick succession for Olutade, first getting in behind the right side of Margate’s defence and keeping the ball in play along the touchline to find Ibz who went down under a challenge for a half-hearted appeal from the crowd, then Head fed the number 10 in behind to force a save from a tight angle before heading over the keeper for the covering Blackman to clear off the line.
Having gone to war with the Margate defence for over an hour, David Smith made way for Andre Coker, allowing Olutade to operate through the middle for the final 25 minutes.
Although Invicta may have felt the game should already be over, Margate offered one final warning as Cawley chested down a long ball over the top of the defence but right back Freddy Barton didn’t offer him a sniff and made a challenge that won Invicta a goal kick.
From that goal kick Invicta effectively ended the game. Coleman gave the ball to Davies who in turn fed Drury who spotted the run of Heard and found Invicta’s number 7 with a diagonal ball in behind. With Jackson busting a gut to join him at the back post, Heardy found the substitute who fired past Seaden from a tight angle to double our advantage in front of a packed Remland Stand.
With Margate reeling, Andre Coker almost joined his fellow substitute with a goal that would have been a Puskas Award contender. Picking the ball up from Olutade, Coker sold one defender with a shot before pirouetting past a second and firing a shot that struck the post.
Elliott Moore replaced Andy Drury for the final 13 minutes, making his Invicta debut, with the young defender slotting into right back while Freddy Barton pushed forward into midfield.
Cawley had two more chances to snatch Margate a way back into the match, firstly from a ball over the top, this time getting a shot off but Coleman refused to be beaten, making himself big and smothering the chance. Minutes later a deep free kick from Greenhalgh was headed comfortably into Coleman’s waiting arms.
It was Invicta however who looked the most likely to add to the scoring late on. Ade Cole was allowed to wander through the Margate midfield and defence before his cut pack from a tight angle was smothered by Seaden. Coker was equally allowed as much time and space as he wanted to carry the ball half the length of the pitch before feeding Heard who fired over with his weaker foot. Jackson then came close to doubling his tally following work from Olutade and Coker to feed him a chance on his right foot that he struck against the near post, proving to be final kick of the afternoon.
The win takes Invicta up to 11th in the Isthmian Premier Division ahead of a week off for FA Cup action on Saturday as we travel to Hartley Wintney.
Two players were awarded a man of the match award for their performance. Firstly thank you to our match sponsors The Nailbox who selected Scott Heard on his return to the side while David Zaccheo from our sponsors Alcaline selected Freddy Barton for his display at right back.