First Team
Isthmian League Premier Division Sat 6 April Alcaline Stadium
Folkestone Invicta

Little more than 24 hours after the announcement that Andy Drury would lead Folkestone Invicta into next season, his side dug out a 4th consecutive home win against playoff hopefuls Horsham, as Horsham wait for even a solitary point at Cheriton Road continues.

With the final furlong well underway and the spring weather bathing the Alcaline Stadium, the 5th placed Hornets travelled to the Kent coast with a strong contingent of supporters hopeful of seeing their side take a stranglehold on a playoff spot with games in hand on all those around them, while Invicta came into the match with very little to play for with safety already virtually assured with 5 games remaining.

Over 100 Horsham supporters made the trip to the Alcaline Stadium

Invicta were forced into just the one change from Easter Monday’s narrow defeat at Hastings with midfielder Dean Rance nursing a knock, Tom Derry returned to the side having recovered from a knocked picked up on Good Friday, with Drury reshuffling his midfield.

Eddie Allsopp got the afternoon underway with Invicta attacking the Remland Stand but it was in front of the open terrace, covered with over 2 coach loads of travelling supporters that we saw the first action as an in-swinging corner from the right missed everybody until it was headed away under the crossbar by Michael Kedman before being hooked into touch bay Callum Davies.

While Horsham seemingly did not possess a long throw like Monday’s opposition, a short throw crossed into the box allowed Jack Mazzone to attempt some acrobatics on the penalty spot but he was unable to hit the target.

Horsham began to threaten down the Invicta right, a low cross in the 11th minute took a bobble that took it over the attempted clearance of Ian Gayle. A minute later another cross just evaded the head of Charlie Hester-Cook.

Tom Derry was caught with a tackle on the right flank in the 14th minute that gave Allsopp the chance to deliver a set piece for the first time. The initial delivery was cleared as far as Michael Kedman who hung the ball up towards the edge of the penalty area, Horsham goalkeeper Lewis Carey coming to punch but was beaten to it by the head of Invicta captain Ian Gayle who diverted it into and empty net before racing off in celebration in front of a packed Remland Stand.

Ian Gayle races away to celebrate his opening goal

Horsham responded as Daniel Ajakaiye jinked through a crowd on the left and pulled a ball back for Mazzone who may have just been beaten to the ball by Kedman, skewing it high into the air and away to Jason Fregene who was caught late by Hester-Cook, forcing the referee into his pocket for the first time.

The visitors next came down the left, a low cross blocked by Cameron Brodie but a second ball finding Hester-Cook who failed to make contact from 5 yards out with the goal at his mercy.

Hester-Cook continued to be at the centre of everything on the pitch as he went down in need of treatment, forcing a brief stoppage in play midway through the half.

Horsham were awarded a free kick well inside their own half that Carey took quickly, seeking to catch out his opposite number but Kai McKenzie-Lyle took a comfortable catch.

A foul on Allsopp saw Invicta awarded a free kick on almost the same blade of grass as that which lead to the opener and the little number 8 delivered again, Tom Derry attacking the ball at the near post but just unable to get a head on it but it was Hester-Cook who stuck out a leg and diverted it into the top corner to double Invicta’s lead after 26 minutes.

Eddie Allsopp is mobbed by teammates after his free kick is turned into the net by Charlie Hester-Cook

Invicta survived a scare just after the half hour mark as Ajakaiye charged down a clearance from McKenzie-Lyle, the Invicta number 1 making himself big enough to recover and divert the shot on goal around the post.

The resulting corner was cleared at the near post but a return delivery from James Hammond found an unmarked head at the back post, fortunately he header was off target.

Following a second shot break in play that saw Lucas Rodrigues leave the pitch, David Smith laid the ball off to Brodie who saw an opportunity to shoot from distance, his effort heading comfortably wide but a whisker from the toe of Allsopp who attempted to turn it home inside the penalty area. Elliott Romain then came on to replace Rodrigues.

In the final minute of the first half left back Harvey Sparks delivered a cross to the back post towards Mazzone, the Horsham 9 volleying from a tight angle into the side netting. The referee brought the half to a close after 6 minutes of added time.

Horsham kicked off the 2nd half and it was Hester-Cook who had the first effort but he fired high over and into the tennis courts.

The next chance would come at the other end and with a lot more accuracy. Seidou Sanogo and Louis Collins linked to get the former into the penalty area where he appeared to lose his balance a little and stumbled. While some on the terraces cried for a penalty, Eddie Allsopp only had one though in his mind, striking through the loose ball from just inside the penalty area to rocket it into the top corner and turn those appeals into cheers.

Eddie Allsopp takes the adulation from supporters behind the goal after scoring Invicta’s third

Andy Drury turned to his bench just before the midpoint of the 2nd half as David Smith made way for Toby Byron and just a minute later Brodie was replaced by Will Moses.

While Horsham dominated possession as they searched for a way back into the game Invicta’s defence held them at bay until the closing minutes when they were awarded a penalty dubious penalty kick. After a corner to the back post fell to Jack Strange the defender appeared to go down very softly but the referee pointed to the spot. James Hammond stepped up to take the kick that McKenzie-Lyle got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.

Jordon Ababio replaced Louis Collins in the final seconds of the 90 and you may forgive Invicta supporters for feeling the nerves as it was announced that we would play 7 minutes of added time.

Early into the added period Invicta cleared a cross to the back post and Fregene collected the ball, beating a challenge to open up his legs and drive forward at pace. The defender, seeing Carey off his line struck an effort from 10 yards inside the Horsham half that certainly had the keeper worried but he took the catch and did well to avoid carrying it out for a corner.

Horsham then created another chance for Mazzone that would have really caused nerves around the stadium, the forward beating his man to a flick on from Lee Harding but unable to send his header either side of McKenzie-Lyle who took the save comfortably.

Thankfully Invicta were holding firm while still threatening on the break, Allsopp send free to cut inside and beat his man before forcing a save from Carey.

As the first chance of the match came from a short throw, the final chance did too, a cross to the back post headed into the path of Strange who hooked it against the woodwork.

Just short of 102 minutes had been played as the afternoon was finally brought to an end by the referee. The win for Invicta taking us to 4 in a row, the longest winning run at Cheriton Road in over 2 years. Invicta will look to extend that run in our final 2 homes games of the season when we welcome Concord Rangers (16th April) and Dulwich Hamlet (20th April).

Horsham meanwhile were consigned to a 9th straight loss in CT19, presumably a trip they will not miss should they go on to secure promotion through the playoffs alongside newly crown champions Hornchurch.

Having claimed an “assist” for the 2nd and scored the 3rd, Eddie Allsopp was selected as Man of the Match by representatives of Folkestone Invicta Supporters Club.

Eddie Allsopp presented with his Man of the Match award by members of the Folkestone Invicta Supporters Club committee