Invicta progressed to the 2nd Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup with a comfortable 4-0 win in the Hampshire sunshine on a day that winger Jordon Ababio scored his first goals for the club.
Invicta remained unchanged from the side that beat Margate 2-0 on August Bank Holiday Monday. Captain Ian Gayle returned to the bench, having been left out of the Kent Derby, joining Ira Jackson Jr, Andre Coker and Will Dempsey. Fin Dent and Elliott Moore, both cup tied having played for Kennington and Deal Town respectively, made way on the bench for Jake Dancer, Under 18s goalkeeper George Surgeon and young midfielder Micheal Everitt.
With the sun beating down on a crowd of 333, very different conditions to our last visit to The Memorial Ground, the hosts kicked off with Invicta kicking uphill in the first half towards a covered end filled with travelling supporters.
Ababio began his stellar performance by winning a corner inside 4 minutes that was headed wide at the back post by defender Will Moses.
The hosts responded quickly with giant left back George Wallace firing wide from 25 yards.
At the other end Wallace was quickly finding himself under more pressure from Ababio who used his pace to burst around his man and win another corner. The Hartley Wintney defence cleared Scott Heard’s set piece and broke quickly, with Kane Penn and Ade Cole defending well to prevent Mason Obeng getting off a shot before a follow up was hit high over the bar.
It was just after the 20 minute mark that the Hartley Wintney keeper was first tested as a perfect driven pass from Callum Davies on the halfway line found the run of Scott Heard who flicked his effort goal bound but was denied by a superb save by Callum Coulter.
David Smith went into the book on the 25th minute as the Invicta forward went down in the presence of the keeper but was adjudged to have done too much in trying to win a penalty.
Obeng was continuing to prove the host’s biggest threat as he ran onto a pass the putt him one on one with Will Moses but his shot flew comfortably wide.
Jenson Mansel joined Smith in the book just before the half hour mark and from the resulting free kick the Invicta forward had the ball in the net, rising high 8 yards out to meet Drury’s ball with a header that proved too good for the keeper to keep out, only for the flag to go up. Replays suggest it was very tight but that the lineman was likely correct to deny Invicta the lead.
Minutes later Invicta survived a scare at the other end as Obeng was found by a cutback in the middle of the area with his first time shot deflected wide off the leg of Callum Davies. Invicta dealt with the corner well and countered resulting in Scott Heard in space on the right but his cross just evaded Smith and Olutade in the box.
Treatment was required for Mansel who had gone down inside the Hartley Wintney box which allowed both sides to regroup with a short drinks break, with the number 4 having to be substituted. The change may well have proved costly for the hosts as moments later Invicta struck, Scott Heard picking up a throw by the dugouts and given far too much time and space to pick his pass, he found Ababio with a long diagonal ball that the winger chested down before beating a defender to the bouncing ball and lifting it high over the keeper and back down under the crossbar for his first goal for the club.
Smith put his body on the line as he searched for a goal to double the lead. The forward collected the ball with his back to goal and fed Scott Heard wide left and made a bursting run to the back post which he collided with in his attempts to head home the cross. The number 9 picked himself up and moments later was on the end of another cross, this time from Freddy Barton, with his header thundering off the crossbar although the flag was up for offside once again.
Ababio had the final effort of the first half deep into stoppage time, with a shot from the edge of the box deflected just out of the reach of Olutade (who may well have been flagged offside had he managed to turn it home) and wide for a corner that came to nothing just before the half was brought to an end.
With Invicta going down the hill second half it took just 20 seconds to pose their first threat with Olutade and Heard working well down the left to win a corner. Drury took it short to work a volley on the edge of the box for Ade Cole that flew high and wide.
Minutes later Cole had corrected his radar as he took a quick free kick 15 yards inside the Invicta half that evaded the jump of left back Wallace to find the touch of Ababio who turned inside the defender and unleashed an effort with the outside of his right boot from the corner of the penalty area that flew past the outstretched hand of Coulter and into the far top corner, a finish David Smith declared “disgusting” as he hugged his teammate in celebration.
As Invicta pressed for more the hosts dealt with balls into the box while at the other end and inventive corner routine allowed Nathanael Boakye to get off their first effort of the second half, straight into the hands of Joe Coleman.
Mev & Edgy made their first change of the afternoon after 59 minutes as Andre Coker replaced Smith in the front 3 and it took just 5 minutes for the substitute to make his mark. Cole again fired a pass just over the head of a defender, this time into the path of Olutade, leaving him and Coker 2 on 2 with the Hartley Wintney defence. Olutade sold his man but lost his balance, only for the second man to cover and clear the ball against Olutade and into the waiting path of Coker who couldn’t miss.
Jackson replaced Ababio before the game restarted but the 3 goal cushion appeared to have taken steam out of the tie. It was 12 minutes before Invicta had another sight at goal as Coker crossed to the back post for Jackson who headed wide.
With just under 10 minutes to go Jackson made his impact as Invicta worked a moved from a throw on the right, with Drury, Olutade and Coker all involved to work Jackson into a shooting opportunity in the middle of the box that drew a desperate challenge from Ashley Akpan that brought down the forward who stepped up bury the spot kick into the bottom corner out of the reach of Coulter.
Dempsey replaced Drury for the final 6 minutes and it was the young fullback who raced forward in support of Olutade who raced onto an error from a defender to run through on goal only to strike his left footed effort against the post.
The final chance of the afternoon fell to the hosts as Obeng fed Akpan on the edge of the box, only to see the effort deflected wide.
So Invicta would leave Hampshire with 4 goals, a win and a clean sheet and heading towards a Kent Derby trip to Margate in Monday’s 2nd Qualifying Round draw.