Invicta’s FA Cup rum for the 2023/24 season came to an end on Tuesday night as Kent rivals Margate progressed to a 3rd Qualifying Round tie with Southern League Premier South leaders Chesham United.
Invicta made 2 changes to the side that had earned a replay with 10 men on Saturday, both in the back 4, as Ian Gayle returned to the side following injury in place of Will Moses while Freddy Barton returned at fullback in place of Ryan-Khanye.
Margate made just the one change from the weekend as Antonis Vasiliou, who scored the late equaliser at Hartsdown Park, replaced Phil Roberts on the wing.
With a strong wind blowing a light drizzle around the Alcaline Stadium, the visitors got the evening underway. Neither keeper had been tested by the time the referee was first called into action for the night as he booked Margate captain Sam Blackman for a late, cynical foul on Jordon Ababio who was breaking away from him in the middle of the pitch in the 16th minute.
A minute later it was Ababio who conceded a free kick as he attempted to control a kick from Invicta keeper Josh Strizovic, with the ball bouncing up against his arm. From the restart Margate winger Ben Greenhalgh received the ball back from Vasiliou before cutting onto his left and delivering a ball from deep that was headed high into the air before dropping to defender Tyrone Sterling who fired into the bottom corner.
Things quickly got worse for Invicta as 5 minutes later a throw on the Margate right was worked into Greenhalgh who was given all the time and space needed to fire into the corner from all of 35 yards and leave Invicta with a huge uphill task to get back into the tie.
Things nearly got much worse for Invicta as a Vasiliou effort was deflected into the path of Greenhalgh in the middle of the penalty area with Margate’s 11, who may have been offside although no flag came, only managing to turn the ball over the crossbar.
Blackman, having already been booked, was then given a talking to by the referee after he caught Andy Drury with a strong arm and Harry Hudson joined his captain in the book as he cut down David Smith as the forward looked to burst past him on the left.
Captain Ian Gayle marked his return as he was booked for kicking the ball away after the referee had given a foul on Margate forward Steve Cawley. Thankfully for Invicta the free kick was fired well over the bar.
Greenhalgh went much closer to killing the game just a minute later as Vasiliou and Cawley worked the ball well on the left to cut back to the 11 who looked to have fired high into the net before Strizovic’s fingertips denied him.
The closest Invicta would come to mounting a response before half time came 5 minutes before the break as Kane Penn delivered a cross from deep but Ababio was unable to jump high enough to turn to goal bound.
Invicta replaced Ababio with Jackson at half time and the substitute won and then took the corner that gave Margate keeper Harry Seaden his first work of the evening as he saved a header from Drury.
Seaden’s kick headed out of play in front of the Invicta dug out with Penn taking it quickly to Heard whose pass failed to find an Invicta shirt, instead allowing Vasiliou to feed Cawley who fired home his 5th goal in 4 to kill off any thoughts of an Invicta fightback.
A cross from Barton came off the head of Duncanson before dropping onto the crossbar under the supervision of Seaden but Gayle could only head the corner from Drury wide at the near post.
It was just before the hour mark that Invicta created a first real chance of the evening. Heard fed Olutade in behind with a pinpoint through ball from deep but the forward’s effort was cleared off the line but rightback Harrison Hatfull.
Margate continued to threaten on the break and could well have made it 4 as Rutherford received a cutback but fired over first time from close range.
With 17 minutes to go Greenhalgh’s mouth earned him a spot in the referee’s notebook as Invicta replaced Drury with Coker. Just a minute later left back Archie Johnson joined him as he took to long to take a throw in with Sterling making it a double for his reaction.
Invicta probed for a breakthrough but it took until the 88th minute as Jackson delivered a dangerous ball from the left that evaded both David Smith, his marker and the goalkeeper to drop inside the far post.
What little hope the goal had given to the crowd came to nothing as a blocked effort from Jackson and a Cole effort from distance that was comfortably saved failed to cut the deficit further before Olutade fired agonisingly wide with the last kick of the night.
Margate progress to the 3rd Qualifying Round tie with Chesham United while Invicta will travel to face Concord Rangers on Saturday 30th September in an Isthmian Premier Division fixture.