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 SCORE 2-1      GATE  404

DATE  28/01/20. 

Video of Game click  HERE

Ten men Folkestone Invicta enjoyed a dramatic 2-1 win over fellow promotion challengers Hornchurch on a Tuesday night when both sides had their captain shown a straight red card at The BuildKent Stadium.

It was an incident-packed night in which the first half both started and finished badly for the home side as Hornchurch opened the scoring as early as the second minute through Adam Cunnington and Invicta central defender Callum Davies was then sent off deep into stoppage time before the interval as he clattered into Cunnington.  In between those two incidents Ronnie Dolan had equalised for Invicta.

Alfie Paxman put the brave home side ahead just after half time and things then got worse for Hornchurch as they had Lewwis Spence sent off for a 70th minute challenge on Invicta player-coach Micheal Everitt.  The visitors then had to finish the match with nine men as defender Rickie Hayles had to go off in the 77th minute following a clash of heads with Invicta substitute Finn O’Mara when the visiotrs had already made their three allotted changes.

This always had the feel of being a big and potentially pivotal fixture as Invicta began a run of five successive league fixtures against clubs who, like themselves, are in the top seven of the BetVictor Isthmian League Premier Division.

Invicta had topped the table before in-form Worthing pulled clear this month, while pre-season title favourites Hornchurch – with thier games in hand – had still been considered by some to be the most likely to be lifting the championship come the end of April.

It was a night of fluctuating fortunes for both sides as Invicta enjoyed a good spell at the start of the second half when a man down as Ira Jackson and Scott Heard came into thier own. Top goalscorer Jackson was not to be on the scoresheet but was chosen as the sponsors’ man of the match on what was his 23rd birthday.

Invicta made one change to the starting X1 that had won 3-1 at home to Corinthian-Casuals on Saturday as Kieron McCann came in for Johan Ter Horst.

But it was Hornchurch – who were the first club to beat Invicta in the league this season with a narrow 1-0 win at the start of October – who showed their title-chasing credentials during the opening exchanges.

The visitors opened the scoring as early as the second minute when tall former Billericay striker CUNNINGTON headed in a Ronnie Winn free kick from the right hand side.

Cunnington and Winn were to be prominent as The Urchins enjoyed their dominant early spell.

It was all Hornchurch as Winn lifted a fifth minute shot over the bar when the ball came in from the left and was only partially cleared and a Winn corner from the right hand side then came off the crossbar two minutes later.

There was some respite for Invicta as Heard rifled a low 12th minute shot wide after he had combined with McCann in a move started by Jackson and a Heard ball into the penalty area was then intercepted by Hayles before it could reach McCann after an initial Dolan pass a minute later.

At the other end, a deep 21st minute Matt Johnson cross from the left hand side was touched over the far post by home goalkeeper Tim Roberts and Paxman blocked when the ball broke for Cunnington a minute later and Invicta were able to clear.

It was now end to end as Invicta gained their first corner of the night in the 24th minute when the ball broke for Heard and his shot deflected wide, while George Winn sliced his shot wide from the right hand side after a well-worked move a minute later.

Heard then played the ball out to Jackson on the right three minutes later when the striker got his shot in but goalkeeper Joe Wright got behind it.

Invicta’s equaliser cme in the 33rd minute when a Jerson Dos Santos shot was saved by Wright and the rebound was put in by DOLAN after Jackson ad played the ball to the left when Heard broke after it had been cleared at the other end.

At this stage the home side would have been delighted to be back on level terms.

It could have got better for the home side when Jackson was fouled on the left hand edge of the penalty area three minutes later and Wright got across to palm away Jackson’s well-hit strike when Paxman touched the set piece to his right to tee up the striker.

Cunnington couldn’t get full contact on his volley during first half stoppage time when Winn played the ball into the middle from the right in a move started by Johnson and Charlie Stimson.

A big moment soon followed deep into stoppage time before the interval when Invicta central defender Matt Newman lost contol of the ball and Cunnington took advantage to play the ball forward down the middle before Davies crahsed into him and was given a straight red card for preventing a goalscoring opportunity.

Invicta re-adjusted at half time as O’Mara came on to partner Newman at the heart of the home defence and striker Dos Santos was sacrificed.

Whilst some spoke of hanging on for a draw, Invicta had other ideas as they made a positive start to the second half.

Hornchurch defender Hayles was booked and Jackson’s subsequent 48th minute free kick from the right hand side of the penalty area was touched over the crossbar by Wright.

Invicta then went ahead with what turned out to be the winning goal in the 50th minute when Josh Vincent played the ball up the right hand side to Heard who was denied by a Wright save but PAXMAN was there to score from an acute angle at the far post.

Invicta right back Vincent was then booked on the hour mark.

A 63rd minute Spence shot from the left hand side flashed wide of the far post as Hornchurch looked to reply.

The visitors made a double substitution as Chima Uchechi came on for Stimson and top goalscorer Chris Dickson replaced Ronnie Wiinn in the 64th minute.

Johnson was then booked four minutes later.

The next big turning point soon followed when Spence was given a straight red card for a challenge on fellow number eight Everitt.  The offence was at least of a similar scale to that of Davies’ earlier so Spence can have few complaints.  How the Hornchurch skipper had not been booked earlier was one of the curiosities of referee James Simpson’s performance.

Hornchurch had not made their numerical advantage count and Heard shot at Wright after a 73rd minute run.

The visitors brought Arthur Lee on for Johnson a minute later but were soon reduced to nine men when Lee’s defensive partner Hayles had to go off after a clash of heads with O’Mara.

Cunnington turned to get in behind O’Mara in the 82nd minute but his low shot from just outside the penalty area was wide of the target.  Invicta were to dominate the closing stages as Hornchurch goalkeeper Wright was to prevent them from increasing their lead.

Dolan played a good 85th minute ball up the right to Jackson but Nathan Cooper blocked the subsequent ball across goal that was aimed at home left back Paxman who had advanced again.  Jackson was to fire over from the right hand side seconds later.

Jackson was then denied by former Tonbridge defender Lee when Heard touched the ball on in the 88th minute.

Wright came out to deny Jackson during stoppage time when the ball came off a defender after Vincent had played the ball up the right hand side when receiving it from McCann.

Jackson hit another well-struck shot before the final whistle after receiving the ball from McCann on the edge of the box but Wright got down to make another good save at the expense of a corner.

Three home wins in eight days since Invicta’s second half collapse at Bognor and home draw against Haringey Borough. Two points behind leaders Worthing and seven points ahead of third-placed Cray Wanderers. Everything is looking rosy again.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Paxman, Newman, Davies, Dolan, Heard, Everitt, Jackson, Dos Santos (O’Mara 45 mins), McCann.  Unused subs: Ter Horst, Blanks, Sterling, Newcombe.

HORNCHURCH: Wright, Clark, Sutton, Hayles, Johnson (Lee 73 mins), G Winn, Spence, Stimson (Uchechi 63 mins), R Winn (Dickson 63 mins), Cooper, Cunnington.  Unused sub: Glenister.

Corners: 3-3