The points were shared on Saturday at the Alcaline Stadium as David Smith struck to cancel out a first half penalty from visitors Whitehawk.
Invicta came into the game off the back of Tuesday’s night’s FA Cup exit. Defender Makhosini Ryan-Khanye missed the match through suspension following his dismissal at Margate the previous Saturday with the only other change coming in the front 3 as Ira Jackson replaced Jordon Ababio in the starting XI.
Whitehawk also made just the 1 change from their 4-0 win over Redhill with Imran Kayani, who began the season at Dover Athletic, replacing Charlie Lambert. Former Invicta forward Louis Collins spearheaded the attack for the visitors.
Whitehawk started on the front foot but after just 7 minutes it was Invicta who had the first chance to open the scoring. A swift move from back to front put Ira Jackson in on the right top cut back to Scott Heard in a central position but the midfielder’s effort struck the base of the post.
3 minutes later it was Jackson who got his own shot off, driving from the right inside the Invicta half he eventually let fly from 25 yards but sent his effort high and wide.
A mistake from defender Luca Cocoracchio gifted Invicta a 12th minute corner but the former Worthing man recovered to head the first behind before heading a second clear to Heard who fired tamely at goalkeeper Mitch Walker from distance.
Whitehawk soon reminded Invicta of their danger a minute later as captain Jack Dixon stole the ball in midfield before driving into space and stinging the gloves of Josh Strizovic from the edge of the box.
Invicta’s front 3 all linked up in the 19th minute as David Smith took a throw from Jackson with his back to goal before laying back to Andy Drury who found Ibrahim Olutade on the edge of the box, the forward spun his man but saw his effort deflected wide for a corner.
Whitehawk responded by forcing a save of the highest quality from Strizovic. Winger Dom Johnson-Fisher evaded challenges from both Ian Gayle and Callum Davies before his cross deflected off the latter and looped onto the head of Kayani at the back post who will wonder how Strizovic managed to get both hands to it from point blank range. The on loan keeper then punched the corner clear and won a free kick as he did so.
Invicta quickly moved up the other end with Olutade feeding Smith who forced a save from a tight angle but was flagged offside. Walker kicked the free kick high up the right, resulting in a series of throw ins for the visitors that lead to the most controversial moment of the afternoon.
Whitehawk 10 Charlie Walker collected a throw with his back to goal an went down while under pressure from Ade Cole. Few in the ground seemed to think anything of it and Drury was setting off downfield with the ball when the referee eventually pointed to the spot. Walker picked himself up to send Strizovic the wrong way from the spot and give the visitors the lead.
The goal appeared to have buoyed the visitors who soon fed Louis Collins in on goal but the forward’s touch to take the ball around Strizovic took him too wide and a resulting cross evaded everyone for a goal kick.
From that goal kick 9 Invicta players were involved in the move that drew us level. Strizovic pass the ball out left before it was worked back across to the right before Ian Gayle pinged the ball into Jackson who controlled and laid it to Smith, driving inside and bending an effort around the challenges of both Whitehawk central defenders and beyond Walker inside the far post.
Invicta were lucky not to be behind again just second later, with Collins again fed in behind and a challenge from Kane Penn and Strizovic forcing the ball wide, the visitors regrouped possession and Walker fired a low cross through the 6 yard box that Collins turned wide from little more than a yard out.
The final 10 minutes of the half passed by with little action of note until Jackson went down under a challenge from both Johnson-Fisher and Stefan Wright but the referee waved it away as he blew for half time.
Invicta started the second half on the front foot with Smith heading wide from a Jackson cross. The winger then tried to take matters into his own hands, hitting an effort from 25 yards that rattled the underside of the crossbar before bouncing down onto the goal line. Replays have since shown that the ball did not cross the line.
It was the top of the crossbar for Olutade a few minutes later as he ran onto a huge header from Ian Gayle and twisted 2 Whitehawk defenders left and right before hitting an effort with his left foot that clipped the woodwork on its way over the top corner.
Good work from Louis Collins to win a long kick from his goalkeeper allowed him to set up a shooting chance for Walker on the edge of the box but it flew high and wide.
Invicta shuffled the front line with 17 minutes to go, replacing Smith with Ababio in an attempt to find a breakthrough.
Moments later it was 2 Whitehawk substitutes who combined to force Strizovic into a save to deny them the opener. Ben Pope won a long ball which bounced into the path of Charlie Lambert’s run but his header failed to beat the Invicta keeper.
With 10 minutes remaining an overhit corner was worked back into the path of Dixon who let fly from 25 yards to force a fingertip save from Strizovic. The resulting corner was headed clear and it was Dixon who hit Olutade hard, leaving the Invicta man in a heap, before then delivering the ball back into the box with Ade Cole on hand to turn it away for a corner at the back post.
With 5 minutes to go Cole delivered a free kick from deep that Gayle headed down to Drury to turn into the path of Ababio who was was unable to keep his first time effort down and fired over the bar.
Invicta then worked a free kick routine from 30 yards that opened up an angle for Jackson to shoot but his effort was deflected and proved comfortable for Walker to gather.
As Whitehawk pushed forward looking for a winner of their own, Invicta could break again and Heard slid a ball inside fullback Wright with Ababio turning on the afterburners, the Whitehawk man lost his balance and tumbled to leave Ababio free before he too went down, possibly having been unbalanced by his falling opponent and the chance was lost.
5 minutes of added time were announced to give a boost to both sides and Whitehawk began the period with a long throw that Freddy Barton miskicked as he cleared with the ball looping backwards and forcing Strizovic to push behind for a corner.
It was Invicta that closed the match with a throw from Jackson which was cleared back out wide with the whistle calling an end to proceedings before the ball could be returned to the penalty area.
The point leaves Invicta unbeaten in 4 and 9th in the Isthmian Premier Division ahead of Tuesday night’s trip to Potters Bar Town with Whitehawk sat just a point and a place above in 8th.
Goalkeeper Josh Strizovic was selected at Man of the Match by our match sponsors the Invicta Meldrews. We would like to thank them for their long continued support of the club.