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FOLKESTONE INVICTA                         0

                                    BISHOP’S STORTFORD               0

Folkestone Invicta’s game against Bishop’s Stortford beat the weather on Tuesday night but could not produce any goals despite the wholehearted efforts of both sets of players amid the difficult stormy conditions at The BuildKent Stadium.

After six successive away league fixtures this was a welcome return to home for Invicta but the heavy rain was stop-start all night, although the pitch did hold up well.

It was a second successive home league goalless draw for Invicta as their previous Pitching In Isthmian League Premier Division fixture here against Hornchurch had also finished 0-0 on a Tuesday night five weeks earlier.  Home goalkeeper Tim Roberts received the sponsors’ man of the match award that night too.

Invicta have been involved in some high-scoring thrillers this season – including Saturday’s 3-2 win at Enfield – but this was a third home goalless draw (the corresponding fixture against Enfield had also finished 0-0) and a fourth in total this season.

But both sides played their part in what was not a bad game despite the conditions without there being that many clear cut chances.

This was a night when defences were on top with central defenders and captains Callum Davies and Ryan Henshaw among their respective sides’ stand out performers.

The only other Pitching In Isthmian League Premier Division fixture to survive on Tuesday was on Haringey Borough’s 3G pitch where Invicta’s next opponents drew 2-2 at home to leaders Worthing in another stalemate but which did feature goals.

Invicta remain third in the table whilst this point took Bishop’s Stortford – now unbeaten in 14 games in all competitions – up to fifth place.

Team news had seen Jordan Wright come back into the Invicta starting X1 in place of Ryan Johnson (groin) who missed his first match since joining the Folkestone club from Ramsgate during the summer. 

Alfie Paxman and David Smith are now the only two remaining Invicta ever presents in all competitions so far during 2021-22.

Johnson had gone off injured at Enfield on Saturday, as did player-coach Micheal Everitt (dead leg) who again started here as Josh Vincent moved across to partner Davies at the heart of the home defence, with Wright on the right hand side.  Matt Newman (hamstring) remained out.

Bishop’s Stortford started well as a fourth minute cross from the left was headed down but cleared by Paxman and Invicta defenerDavies then made a strong challenge after a cross into the home penalty area a minute later.

Invicta then had an early chance of their own in the sixth minute when Scott Heard’s corner from the right hand side was met by a diving Everitt header at the far post but James Thomas kept it out.

39-year-old Everitt had scored a rare headed goal to open the scoring at Enfield on Saturday.

A toe-poke forward from central defender Henshaw released target man Jake Cass on the quarter of an hour mark but a saving tackle from Vincent averted the danger.

The visitors’ gained their first corner of the night in the 20th minute when Henshaw picked Ben Marlow out on the left hand side and the latter’s low shot deflected past the near post.  Darren Foxley’s subsequent set piece from the left was flicked on by Henshaw and fell to striker Cass whose shot from a tight angle hit the foot of the near post before his second shot was blocked for another corner, this time on the right, as Invicta had bodies there close to their goal.  The second corner was headed on to create another chance but the Invicta defence blocked again.

Foxley let fly from distance but was well over the crossbar when he combined with Jack Thomas after goalkeeper Jack Giddens’ 27th minute clearance.

The best chance thus far fell to Invicta in the 33rd minute when a ball forward was headed on by Ade Yusuff to send Heard clear who tried to take the ball round goalkeeper Giddens but was forced wide by the goalkeeper and the midfielder’s shot was blocked from close to the line.

Yusuff broke down the right hand side in the 40th minute and played the ball inside to Dolan who set Heard up but his low shot was saved by Giddens.

Invicta then worked the ball out to the right hand side in the 45th minute when the cross was punched away by Giddens.

A 55th minute Heard shot was blocked and the home side had penalty appeals turned down by referee Howard Collins a minute later when Dolan’s ball struckHenshaw on the arm.

Bishop’s Stortford broke and had two-against-one following an Invicta corner at the other end as Foxley played the ball forward to Johnville Renee who helped it on to Ryan Charles and the latter cut inside but fired wastefully over the bar.

The first substitution of the night saw Bishop’s Stortford’s top goalscorer Cass replaced by another danger man in Frankie Merrifield.

Anthony Church played a 65th minute ball forward to Charles but Vincent made a saving tackle inside the penalty area.

Invicta’s only substitution was a familiar one as the club’s record goalscorer Draycott came on for record appearance holder Everitt.

Marlow received the ball from Church and took it on in the 76th minute but Roberts got behind his deflected shot.

Invicta threatened to win it in the 88th minute when Smith played a one-two with striking partner Yusuff and curled his well-struck shot just over the bar.

Charles played a stoppage time ball out to Marlow on the  left who chipped the ball across goal to the right hand side of the box just before the final whistle.

Jack Thomas (66th minute) was the game’s only booking.

On the Invicta bench was 17-year-old Lenny Atherton who had been signed on for the first team having scored twice for Folkestone Invicta youths in a 7-1 win over Kent Football United in front of Neil Cugley on Sunday. Atherton also plays for Invicta’s Academy side and had come on for the first team in pre-season at Dover Athletic.

There was also a return to the squad for Aaron Simpson who has missed the start of the season with illness.

A combination of the poor weather and a midweek December fixture kept the crowd down to 339, comfortably the lowest home attendance for the Folkestone club so far this season but still a comparatively good turn out at this level and in comparison to previous seasons.

Among those watching from the sidelines was Finn O’Mara, who had scored at the weekend whilst on loan at Hastings from Invicta.

                       

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, McCann, Everitt (Draycott 67 mins), Davies, Wright, Heard, Dolan, Smith, Yusuff, Paxman.   Unused subs: Atherton, Simpson, Borrello, Collins.

BISHOP’S STORTFORD: Gidden, Church, Robbins, Henshaw, Marlow, Cass (Merrifield 60 mins), Reene, Jack Thomas, Foxley (Harris 73 mins), Charles, James Thomas.  Unused subs: Bird, Allum, Cracknell. 

Attendance: 339.

Corners: Invicta 6 Bishop's Stortford 5