As the weather turned into something more typical of October, Invicta returned to winning ways on Saturday as goals either side of half time secured much needed 3 points at the Alcaline Stadium.
With both sides coming into the fixture separated by a single point and having both exited the FA Trophy a week earlier, 3 points must have felt vital to supporters of both teams.
Invicta made 3 changes to the side fell to a penalty shootout defeat 7 days before. An unchanged back 4 sat in front of Joe Coleman in goal, Scott Heard returned to the midfield along with Chris Regis who was unveiled as an Invicta player late on Friday night, while Luke Holness made his 1st start for the club after coming off the bench last week, in place of Jordon Ababio. Andy Drury dropped out of the squad after picking up a slight knock against Haringey but David Smith returned to the bench.
The visitors made several changes to the team that fell at home to Dulwich Hamlet, with the suspended Isiah Noel-Williams 1 of 5 players to drop out of the side that lined up in The Ambers’ sky blue away colours ahead of kick off.
Cheshunt began the match looking lively without managing to test Coleman, with Ira Jackson being the first to ask any real question of the goalkeepers as he cut in from the right in the 14th minute and fired a looping effort with his left foot that was taken just under the crossbar.
The visitors went up the other end and won a couple of corners before asking the first question of Coleman who got down to his right to comfortably take a tame effort from Nnamdi Nwachuku from the edge of the box.
Holness had his first sight of goal of the afternoon in the 18th minute, controlling a poor defensive header but sending his dipping volley just over the crossbar.
Cheshunt struck the first blow of the afternoon after 25 minutes as Nwachuku picked the ball up just inside the Invicta half and ran at the defence, while the forward appeared to lose control of the ball it ran free to Solomon Bough who slotted low into the far corner.
Invicta responded with a left footed effort from Ibrahim Olutade that flew over the crossbar. From the goal kick Ian Gayle clashed with Nwachuku as the pair battled for the bouncing ball, with the Invicta captain picking up the afternoon’s first booking. Scott Heard quickly made it a second as he put in a late challenge high up the pitch leaving fullback Finlay Titchmarsh in need of some treatment.
Invicta began to build some momentum, winning a pair of quick free kicks just outside the box followed by a pair of corners that lead to the equaliser. Jackson took the second corner short to Heard who delivered his cross into the 6 yard box, finding Luke Holness unmarked and able to stoop low and turn the ball past Joe Rose in the Cheshunt goal.
— Folkestone Invicta (@FIFC) October 14, 2023
Cheshunt then had the better of the remaining 6 minutes plus added time at the end of the first half but again without testing Coleman who saw one deflected shot wide before the sides went in level at the break.
The sun that had bathed the Alcaline Stadium afternoon remained as Cheshunt kicked off for the second half but with the addition of a single dark grey cloud throwing some light rain down onto the terraces. Within a minute Olutade signalled his intentions as he won a loose ball in the middle of the opponents half before firing off a shot from just outside the area that was comfortably saved.
Jackson provided his teammate with another chance quickly after as the forward picked up the ball inside the Invicta half and carried it to the edge of the Cheshunt area, the attention of his defenders forcing him wide to the right before he delivered a cross to the back post the Olutade headed against the crossbar.
Jackson then started the next attack moments later as he juggled the ball in the middle of the pitch and sent an audacious ball back over his head to find Holness high on the right, setting up a chance for Chris Regis to deliver a ball into Olutade who left the ground in the middle of the Cheshunt penalty area and connected sweetly with his volley, giving Rose no chance to prevent Invicta taking the lead.
— Folkestone Invicta (@FIFC) October 14, 2023
Invicta continued to push to extend the lead with midfielders Heard and Cole both shooting off target before the visitors reminded the home crowd that they carried a threat of their own, Nwachuku bringing down a ball over the top and forcing a save from Coleman before Titchmarsh ended up on the end of a good passing move but scuffed his effort with his weaker foot.
Invicta’s first changes came with 20 minutes to go with a change of system as Moses and Smith replaced Olutade and Jackson. Smith almost made an impact with his first touch as he got a head to a Regis cross at the near post but failed to make enough contact to turn it on target.
Smith then fed Holness through on goal with the Invicta forward going down under a defender’s challenge but appeals for a penalty went unanswered by the referee.
With little more than 10 minutes to go Regis departed to applause from all around the ground for his debut performance with Barton replacing him in midfield.
As time ticked away a short free kick worked a shooting opportunity for Smith from a tight angle that was blocked for a corner. Gayle headed wide at the back post from the set piece.
The announcement of 6 minutes of added time sent groans around the terraces but Invicta saw out the final minutes without a scare as Coleman’s goal remained untested, Invicta securing a first home win since August Bank Holiday weekend to take us up to 6th in the Isthmian Premier Division standings.
Man of the Match Luke Holness was presented with his award by Neil Shaw from sponsors Alcaline