First Team
Isthmian League Premier Division Sat 20 April Alcaline Stadium
Folkestone Invicta
Dulwich Hamlet

Just as in their last visit to Cheriton Road in 2018, Dulwich Hamlet raced into a 3-goal first half lead on Saturday but 6 years on from that penultimate weekend clash in the midst of a titanic promotion battle, Invicta came from behind to ensure an unbeaten 8-match run at home to end the 2023/24 season.

Unlike that afternoon, both sides came into the fixture with little to play for with both having been assured of their place in the Isthmian Premier Division for several weeks. Still, manager Andy Drury had stressed his desire to maintain an unbeaten end to the season and ensure that only champions Hornchurch had left the Alcaline Stadium with 3 points since the turn of the year.

Invicta emerged from the dressing rooms for the final time this season with 3 enforced changes as Jason Fregene and Cameron Brodie were forced to miss out having come off injured on Tuesday evening against Concord Rangers while David Smith was only fit enough for the bench. Chris Sessegnon returned to the side at right back for the first time since picking up an injury of his own in early March while Jordon Ababio and Louis Collins joined Tom Derry in attack.

Invicta started the brighter as winger Ababio got beyond his fullback twice inside the opening 3 minutes but it was the visitors who struck first. Veteran striker Danny Mills won the ball 15 yards inside the Invicta half and slipped in winger Josh Shonibare who fired low inside the far post from the corner or the 6 yard box.

Any early Invicta momentum halted, Dulwich took full control of the game and were soon 2 goals up. A free kick on the halfway line was played short and caught Invicta napping, Shonibare fed in behind again but this time much wider, he was able to return the favour with a looped cross that Mills headed into an empty net from close range.

Dulwich continued to cause problems, mainly through Shonibare on the right, but Invicta managed to hold them at arms length until the 26th minute when a shot blocked by Ian Gayle dropped towards Ryley Scott on the edge of the area who buried his effort to make it 3 and leave the home crowd stunned.

Invicta’s way back into the match game with a hint of fortune. A free kick wide on the right given for handball against Sean Bonnett-Johnson allowed Eddie Allsopp to deliver onto the head of Tom Derry who only managed to strike the post. Goalkeeper Will Lakin failed to deal with the rebound however and Seidou Sanogo was on hand to finish off the chance to cut the deficit with 8 minutes to go until half time.

Invicta head back to get the game restarted after Seidou Sanogo’s goal

Ababio very nearly grabbed a second just a minute later as he battled to win a long ball, beating his 2 defenders to fire a shot that bobbled just wide of the far post.

It would have taken the most optimistic of Invicta supporters to suggest a turnaround was on the cards as Eddie Allsopp got us back underway for the second half but Andy Drury’s half time team talk almost had an immediate impact as his side made a fast start. In just the 2nd minutes of the half, Callum Davies found himself on the edge of the area to loop a ball over the top of the Dulwich defence that Seidou Sanogo fired wide with his left foot.

Invicta continued to press for another but were struggling to find that killer instinct as the visitors did their best to take time out of the game and kill it off. Drury turned to his bench to introduce David Smith for Louis Collins in the 64th minute.

It was Smith’s strike partner that was on the end of the next big chance just moments later as Michael Kedman linked with Allsopp who squared a low pass to Derry but the pitch that is due to receive heavy work in the summer decided it still had a part to play, providing an evil bobble that saw the ball fly up into his shin meaning his effort headed over the crossbar.

With little more than 15 minutes to go it was the quick thinking of Dean Rance that shifted the game’s momentum firmly in Invicta’s favour. Jordon Ababio’s quick feet drew a foul 25 yards from goal but rather than allowing anybody to take a shot, Rance got the ball down and passed it into Allsopp on the edge of the box, Invicta’s number 8 turning into space and firing low under the keeper to peg the score back to 3-2.

Eddie Allsopp drills his goal under Will Lakin

Back into the game and with a packed terrace behind the goal roaring them on, Invicta had their tails up. Ian Gayle picked our Ababio on the right with a long pass, the low cross into the box looked destined to be tapped home by Tom Derry if not for the fingertips of Will Lakin.

Before Dulwich could regroup properly the ball was back out wide to Ababio who this time did find Derry in the box but the forward saw his shot blocked.

Next to find Derry in the box was David Smith, holding off his defender to cut it back to his partner but a nasty bobble on the penalty spot prevented Derry from controlling the ball. He did well to maintain possession for Invicta with Ababio laying it off for Sanogo who took aim first time 25 yards from goal to force a good save.

Invicta’s equaliser finally came with 6 minutes remaining. A long kick from McKenzie-Lyle found its way to Allsopp before Derry found Kedman in behind the defence with a first time pass that left him and Smith 2-on-1 with Lakin. Kedman found Smith and although it initially looked like the pass was too far behind him and that the chance may be squandered, Invicta’s “bagsman” managed to fire the ball past the bodies being thrown in his way to level the score.

David Smith is hugged by Jordon Ababio after his equalising goal


Having offered very little in the second half Dulwich finally tested McKenzie-Lyle with an effort from distance that he parried wide for a corner.

But it was Invicta who would have the best chance to win the match late on. Moses won the ball back and fed Ababio on halfway with his back to goal, the winger laying the ball off and spinning to make his run forward where the return pass found him, knocking the ball past his man and accelerating away into the penalty area before firing an effort with the outside of his right boot the flew just past the far post.

Ababio created one final moment of danger in injury time as he played a 1-2 with Allsopp before driving to the byline but his cutback was cleared.

So as the referee brought the afternoon to and end, the curtain fell upon the 2023/24 season at the Alcaline Stadium with Invicta finishing on an unbeaten 8 game home run to take us into the summer and what lies ahead.

Goalscorer Seidou Sanogo was awarded Man of the Match by our match sponsors Whitefish Marketing.

Seidou Sanogo presented with his award for Man of the Match