Andy Drury’s Invicta side continued a flying start to 2024 with a win away at 3rd place Enfield Town on Saturday thanks to 1st half goals from Tom Derry and Scott Heard.
Both sides headed into the fixture at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium in North London unbeaten since the turn of the year, Invicta with a win over Margate and a draw with high-flying Wingate & Finchley under their belt while the hosts had only managed to play once, a 1-0 win over Haringey Borough on Tuesday evening.
Invicta made just a single change from the previous week, with Jason Fregene coming in to make his first start in place of Jordon Ababio who dropped to the bench.
It can certainly be said that Invicta have started slowly in recent matches and Enfield certainly came out of the blocks quickest. Reece Beckles-Richards fired wide for just outside the area in the 4th minutes before the first long throw of the afternoon caused Invicta some problems in the 6th before being scrambled behind for a corner.
Those behind the Enfield goal were crying for a penalty on the 11 minute mark when Fregene tussled with an attacker by the offside flag negated any need for the referee to make a decision.
Little over a minute later the hosts were punished for not making their early pressure count. Invicta won the ball in the middle of the pitch with Scott Heard spreading the play wide to Chris Sessegnon on the right. The wing-back carried the ball forward before finding David Smith 25 yards from goal, with the forward taking a touch before playing in his strike partner Tom Derry who fired off a pinpoint effort that nestled perfectly into the bottom corner before wheeling away and running off to kiss the club photographer’s camera in celebration.
The goal had given Invicta a boost and it was the visitors who went close next as the midfield 3 linked together; Sanogo won the ball on halfway before giving it to Scott Heard who carried it forward and found Ade Cole, the number 8’s left-footed effort from the edge of the box heading just wide of the post.
The hosts weren’t going away but continued to toil in front of the Invicta goal, delivering long throws and crosses from deep. One cross from the byline in the 22nd minute was clawed away by Joe Coleman before being cleared, the return cross from the other flank found Marcus Wyllie who fired well wide.
Scott Heard next threatened the Enfield goal to give a warning of what was to come. Colema’s goal kick was won by Derry before Cole and Smith battled to win the ball and found Heard drifting to the left, the midfielder’s shot off his weaker foot forcing a routine save from the Enfield goalkeeper Rhys Forster.
But The Towners continued to cause their own problems, Forster throwing the ball out to his left back who was promptly dispossessed by Sessegnon and Invicta never allowed them to recover, Ade Cole eventually driving into the box and hitting a low ball across the 6 yard box for Scott Heard to turn in at the back post, colliding with the woodwork himself as the ball hit the net.
Invicta survived a scare in the 33rd minute as a corner was headed high into the air, Coleman was unable to gather under pressure but the shot from James Richmond failed to beat the defender on the goal-line.
Scott Heard nearly turned provider in the final moments of the half as he delivered a free kick from the right onto the head of Seidou Sanogo but the midfielder was unable to beat the goalkeeper to make it 2 goals in as many games.
The hosts were clearly unhappy with their first half and came out after the break with 2 changes to the lineup, Beckles-Richards & Dylan Adjei-Hersey replaced by Obi Onyeagwara & Herson Alves.
It didn’t take long for the shelling of the Invicta area to recommence, Derry and Goodman both heading away crosses in the opening minutes of the 2nd half before dead on 50 minutes a cross to the back post was headed back across goal and fell to the substitute Alves who fired well over.
In the 55th minute another cross was headed behind by Goodman, the resulting corner leading to a shot the Coleman saved before a follow up was sent wide.
Long throws continued to pepper the Invicta area but just after the hour mark a short throw allowed a cross from deep that was headed well wide from distance.
Ade Cole was replaced in midfield by Will Moses shortly after receiving a 63rd minute booking.
With every minute that passed feeling like an hour, Enfield won a free kick just outside the box with less than 20 minutes remaining. Having failed so far with balls into the box, this time the taker went direct but fired his effort just wide of Coleman’s near post.
Approaching the final 15 minutes Invicta gave Enfield a warning on the break but Tom Derry was just beaten to Sanogo’s low cross by his defender.
Having failed with both crosses and shots from distance, Enfield finally attempted to combine the two in the 78th minute as a cross from deep appeared to be heading just under Coleman’s crossbar but the huge Invicta stopper wasn’t to be beaten and did well to push it over. After Joe received treatment, and a torrent of abuse from behind the goal, Enfield’s corner resulted in a shot the flew high over the bar.
Jackson replaced Smith with 5 minutes to go and almost made an immediate impact as Invicta had the ball in the net for the 3rd time. Enfield’s free kick was taken short but passed straight to Kane Penn who started a quick attack, finding Jackson who carried the ball to the edge of the box before seeing his first effort blocked. Will Moses collected the loose ball and delivered a cross from the right that Tom Derry chested down and fired goal bound to force a good save from Forster, Jackson following up to fire home the rebound, only to see the flag raised on the far side.
As Invicta settled in to see out the final moments of the match defending another series of corners and throws into the box, Scott Heard departed the pitch to be replaced by Toby Byron, making his first appearance since coming off with an injury on Boxing Day.
As the clocked ticked agonisingly close to the 96 minute mark, a long ball forward form Forster was met with the full-time whistle, seeing Invicta’s unbeaten start to the year extended to 3 matches with a 3rd win in 4 visits to Donkey Lane.
With sides around Invicta failing to win they fixtures, Andy Drury saw his side move 7 points clear of the bottom 4 and full of momentum and confidence to take into Tuesday night when we host Cray Wanderers at the Alcaline Stadium.