First Team
Friendly Sat 6 July Holm Park
Folkestone Invicta
  • Smith (83')
  • Kouassi (86')

Andy Drury’s new-look Invicta side began pre-season with a win over Sheppey United.

Invicta arrived at a wind-swept Holm Park where no fewer than 12 players would pull on the black & amber shirt for the first time, including new signings, trialists and players from our Academy and U18 teams.

With Jonny Henly unavailable, academy goalkeeper Dan Kennedy was given the full 90 minutes in goal, having made his first team debut at the same venue back in March.

In front of Dan, Chriss Sessegnon started at right back with new signing Marvel Ekpiteta partnering a trialist in the centre with youngster Joel Odineran on the left.

Dean Rance started in midfield, wearing the captain’s armband, alongside Cameron Brodie who spent the latter part of the previous campaign with Invicta and academy captain Brad Walledge.

Tom Derry started in attack, flanked by summer signing Joan Luque on the left and a trialist on the right.

Kennedy was the first goalkeeper to be tested, holding a tame header and a misdirected cross within the first 8 minutes.

A miscommunication in the Invicta defence allowed Sheppey’s no. 11 to attempt a lob into an empty net from distance but his effort bounced onto the roof of the net.

Summer signing Matt Young made his introduction to the match earlier than planned as he replaced Cameron Brodie in the 15th minute.

Both sides appeared to struggle to create chances in quite horrendous wind conditions and the wind played its part in the afternoons opening goal. on 35 minutes a short corner led to a cross that would ordinarily have sailed out for a throw but, heading into the wind, dropped dead onto the penalty spot to be headed home by a trialist for the hosts.

Invicta almost hit back immediately with Brad Walledge winning the ball high up the pitch before Matt Young fed Luque on the left, his low shot saved well by the goalkeeper.

Young was next to take aim at goal, Invicta moving the ball well from the back before Luque linked with Walledge to find Young who fired wide from outside the area.

The sides returned for the second half with the wind easing off a little, the clouds parting to make way for a little sunshine and a host of changes for Invicta. Former Sheppey man Frankie Morgan was introduced at left back, moving Odineran into the centre alongside Ian Gayle while Gavin Hoyte replaced Sessegnon at right back. The midfield 3 remained in tact from that which finished the first half, but in attack Evans Kouassi lined up on the left, Dan Smith through there middle and another trialist on the right.

Koussai and Morgan showed promising signs of linking up on the left, 10 minutes into the half creating the best chance of the match so far with a Kouassi cross finding Young at the back post but the midfielder was unable to let the ball drop under pressure and fired just over.

Within a minute it was Morgan’s turn to deliver a low cross that Dan Smith turned goal-bound, brushing the top of the crossbar on its way over.

Halfway through the second half Young won the race to a loose ball in midfield, poking it to Kouassi who turned it over the head of a defender to allow Young to race in on goal, a well timed challenge deflecting his shot just wide of the bottom corner.

With 20 minutes remaining Sheppey looked destined to double their lead as an error in the Invicta defence allowed their no. 9 to race clear on goal, but Kennedy came well and smothered the chance on the edge of his box.

Andy Drury made one final change, replacing Dean Rance with U18 forward Ashton Mitford for the final 15 minutes.

Defender Gavin Hoyte went close to opening his account on debut, driving from the Invicta half and linking with Kouassi before firing just wide inside the area.

Mitford had his first sight of goal with 10 minutes to go as he rose to meet a corner, glancing his header wide.

Invicta finally had the breakthrough in the 83rd minute, Hoyte collecting a cross that had evaded everyone in the box, feeding Kouassi who beat two men on the edge of the area and one inside it before firing a deflected effort that the goalkeeper was unable to hold, Dan Smith following in to tap home the equaliser.

Having shown fans his dancing feet, Kouassi gave a glimpse of his raw pace just 3 minutes later. Matt Young won possession in the middle of the Invicta half and quickly fed a defence splitting pass for the forward to race on to, finishing past the keeper to give Invicta a late lead.

Supporters could head home from Sheppey having seen Andy Drury’s new look side pick up a win, although minutes in legs will be the most important takeaway as the manager begins to gel his side ahead of the start of the Isthmian Premier Division season on 10th August.