It was a frustrating Saturday afternoon for Invicta who lead twice but were ultimately unable to secure all 3 points against a Carshalton Athletic side continue their own bright start to 2024.
Invicta came into the fixture off the back of defeat at Canvey Island on Tuesday evening that ended a 4-game unbeaten run while the visitors were still on a 4-game run of their own, as well as a 4-game unbeaten run at Cheriton Road.
Andy Drury made 3 changes to his side from Tuesday with David Smith replacing Louis Collins in attack, Eddie Allsopp making his first start for the club in midfield ahead of Scott Heard and Toby Byron in for Jordon Ababio in defence.
With Invicta attacking the Remland Stand David Smith was the first to get off a shot for the afternoon in the 7th minute with an effort from 25 yards that never looked to trouble Will Huffer in the Carshalton goal, Eddie Allsopp followed up a minute later as he controlled a poor clearance but fired well over the bar.
Allsopp didn’t take long to make an impact as he created the opening goal of the afternoon in the 9th minute. The young midfielder found himself with the ball on the right touchline following a throw from Jason Fregene, he played the ball inside to Smith but the return pass appeared beyond him but he didn’t agree, eventually robbing possession from Carshalton defender Joseph Bell before delivering a cross to the edge of the box for Seidou Sanogo to volley into the bottom of the corner with his left foot.
Invicta’s lead was short lived, 81 seconds to be exact, a cross from the right headed into the bottom corner by Oluwabunmi Babajide, a goal so quick after the restart that it almost caught the Invicta TV cameraman cold.
Before Invicta could regroup Carshalton were in front. A corner from the Wilf Armory corner of the stadium evaded everybody as it bounced on the 6 yard line before being turned home at the back post by Luke Read.
It was then Invicta’s turn to hit back immediately, 123 seconds later. A Callum Davies cross from deep on the left was headed high and clear but only to Dean Rance who returned his own header just as high into the winter air, Tom Derry reacting quickest to run in behind Bell and caress his volley into the bottom corner to level the scores again.
After the busiest 10 minutes of the season at the Alcaline Stadium, it was a period of relative quiet until the 37th minute when Derry struck again. Smith held the ball up before feeding Toby Byron on the left who delivered a perfect cross to the back post that Invicta’s number 9 headed back across goal into the same bottom corner.
Invicta continued to press for the safety of a 2-goal cushion. David Smith forced a fairly routine stop with a left footed effort inside the box before Allsopp found Sanogo in space again, this time the midfielder hitting a good effort with the outside of his right boot but only managing to force a save from the goalkeeper.
After the break the action struggled to match that of the 1st half, neither side managing to trouble the opposing goalkeeper early on. The first talking point of the 2nd half coming with 20 minutes to go as Allsopp picked up the first booking of the afternoon, in possession of the ball he was robbed of it by Kawku Frimpong and caught the Carshalton midfielder as he attempted to play the ball.
It was in the 73rd minute that we nearly got the 1st goal of the half, Derry holding up the ball in the middle of the park before finding Smith who ran at the visiting defence before sliding the ball back into the path of his strike partner who was unfortunately beaten to it by Lexus Beeden who must have been relived to see the ball fly just past the corner of post and crossbar rather than nestling into the net.
Smith was then replaced by Louis Collins in the 78th minute, moments before the game’s final goal. A ball in behind the Invicta defence looked as if it might head out of play but was cut back to the front post where Babajide met it to fire home his 2nd and level the score again.
The scoring may have been over but the drama wasn’t. With 10 minutes to go Tom Derry closed down Carshalton defender Charlie Kennett as he progressed up the wing, winning the ball with what appeared to be a perfectly timed challenge that was met with no hint of protest by anybody in a red shirt or on in the away dugout, but which drew a yellow card from the referee. The baffling decision then escalated into manager Andy Drury being forced to spend the final minutes in the dressing room as he was dismissed during a discussion with the referee.
The incident seemed to spark life into the visitors who were on top for the final 10 minutes in search of a winner but the closest they would come was an effort from distance from captain Danny Bassett that flew just over Joe Coleman’s crossbar.
So both sides would have to settle for a point, Invicta without a win over Carshalton since 2016 in the Ryman South but a point gained ahead of a tough week with games against league leaders Hornchurch and 3rd place Billericay Town to come.
Defender Jason Fregene was selected at Man of the Match by match sponsors Grove Grovellers FC