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Invicta Pick Up A Point At Cray Wanderers

LogoDescription automatically generated Cray Wanderers 2 Folkestone Inv. 2     

On a chilly evening at Hayes Lane, Cray Wanderers and Folkestone Invicta shared the points in an entertaining 2-2 draw that ebbed and flowed but ultimately ended in stalemate.


Invicta had to make two enforced changes to the starting eleven that had lost at Lewes on Saturday, with Ronnie Dolan failing a fitness test before the game and Ade Yusuff calling in ill. They were replaced by Jordan Wright, making a welcome return to the team after his recent injury, and Invicta’s all-time leading scorer in senior football Ian Draycott stepping in up-front alongside David Smith. ‘The Wands’ team showed three changes from Saturday’s defeat at Kingstonian , with Kasim Aidoo, Jamie Yila and, new loan signing from Bromley, Sam Skeffington, coming in for Player/Assistant Manager Andy Drury, Daniel Uchechi and Tom Hanfrey.   


Invicta came flying out the blocks and after two minutes, Wright gave us the lead, Smith received the ball on the edge of the area from Scott Heard’s through ball following a por clearance and as he tried to round Jack Turner, the goalkeeper stretched out his hand to deflect the ball away from the forward, but Wright followed up and turned it into an empty net. A couple of minutes later Smith again threatened as he tried to get on the end of Josh Vincent’s cross, but it was headed clear and then Ryan Johnson played in Kieron McCann with an excellent cross-field pass, he then fed Alfie Paxman, who’s shot was blocked, he then followed up with another effort which was also blocked and then McCann had a go, but his attempt bounced through to Turner.


At this stage, Invicta were on top, but this all changed in the fourteenth minute, when seemingly out of nothing, Skeffington pushed forward before laying the ball off to ‘The Wands’ leading scorer, Anthony Cook, and his shot from around thirty yards flew into the top left-hand corner, giving Tim Roberts no chance. A minute later, Matt Newman received the game’s first yellow card as he tripped Yila as he went past him, but the free kick from just outside the penalty area taken by Adam Coombes bounced harmlessly away off the Invicta wall. Chris Dickson, who had caused us problems previously with his former club Hornchurch, then burst through the Invicta back-line, but Roberts was swiftly off his line, bravely diving at the forward’s feet to collect the ball.


It was Roberts’ opposite number that was then called into action as Paxman made a threatening run before unleashing a vicious shot which was excellently saved by Turner, who then got up swiftly to push away McCann’s returned shot, before the rebound was turned wide by Draycott. Moments later, Vincent then headed a Heard free kick towards goal, but it was collected by Turner, and then the goalkeeper was swiftly off his line to cut out a McCann cross as Wright closed in. Invicta then went close again when Wright and Heard combined down the right and the latter’s cross was steered across the goalmouth and wide by Smith, before Vincent set up Wright, but he blasted his shot wide.


Both sides had further chances before half time, firstly our opponents were awarded a free kick thirty yards from goal and Coombes fired in a shot which went wide of the left post, then McCann ran onto Newman’s through ball, but was denied by a superb save when his half volley to the near post was deflected over the bar by Turner. So, the sides went into the break on level terms, Invicta should, on balance of play, possibly been ahead but again several decent chances went begging.


Coombes’ free kick at the end of the first half was his last contribution to the game as, due to feeling unwell, he was substituted for the start of the second by combative midfielder Cameron Brodie. This seemed to galvanise ‘The Wands’ and they started the second half in a similar vein to the way we started the first and put the Invicta defence under concerted pressure. Firstly, Skeffington saw his shot from the edge of the area blocked, then a long ball from Richie Danquah into the box caused concern as Roberts and Newman seemed to leave the ball to each other and Dickson nipped in, but his shot went wide. Reason fed Cook down the right, the striker controlled the ball and advanced on goal  before curling a shot across the Invicta goalmouth and wide of the far post. In the fifty-second minute, our opponents made their pressure tell, the ball was played to Yila who showed a good turn of pace to make room to get his cross in and from eight yards, Reason slotted the ball wide of Roberts and into the net It was no more than ‘The Wands’ deserved, as Invicta had made a slow start and, at this stage, were being pushed deeper and deeper.


Five minutes later, the home side had another great chance to extend their lead but having been set-up by good interplay between Skeffington and Yila, Dickson shot over from around the penalty spot. We then carved out a chance as Smith did well to win the ball before playing it to Paxman, who sent in an excellent low cross, but Wright turned the ball over from close range at the far post. Goalkeeper Turner then picked up a yellow card for time-wasting as he delayed the taking of the goal kick. Turner was then more positive as he cut out McCann’s dangerous cross. Despite Invicta applying more pressure, ‘The Wands’ then reminded us of the threat they pose as Cook won the ball off Paxman and sent in a dangerous cross, but Yila couldn’t quite connect at the far post as the ball bounced over his head as he advanced on goal. This was Cook’s last part in the game as he limped off shortly after to be replaced by Jack Hanson in the seventy-fourth minute, and he too almost made an immediate impact, but he was just unable to connect with Reason’s cross.


As we continued to press, Davies played in Draycott, but the striker was unable to bring the ball down and Turner was out to claim the ball, although there was an anxious moment for the Cray Wanderers’ faithful as he appeared to jar his knee in making the save, but after treatment he was able to continue. The Cray Wanderers’ goal was under something of a siege by now, firstly Paxman sent in a dangerous cross which eluded everyone in the box and then Vincent shot over from the edge of the area as a corner was cleared to him. The anxiety was now showing amongst our opponents and in the seventy-fifth minute Yila became the second Cray Wanderers player to be booked as he blatantly kicked the ball away having been caught offside. Five minutes later he was replaced by Tom Hanfrey, possibly to prevent him getting into more trouble.


Our opponents then had a golden chance to win the game as Hanson, shook off Johnson and found himself on his own some ten yards from goal, but fortunately for Invicta he blasted over in what was a real let off as that was the game if it had gone in. In the eighty-third minute, Draycott was replaced by the returning Ollie Freeman and immediately he sent in a cross which McCann met at the far post, but he shot tamely into the side-netting. Johnson then played in Paxman who’s cross was met by McCann but once again Turner was equal to the task and pushed his shot wide of the post. However, just as time was running out, our pressure finally told as Heard swung in a corner from the left and as the ball bounced around in the six-yard box, Davies reacted first and turned it into the net for a collector’s item.


With the game going into the five minutes of time added on, Invicta continued to press and after  Freeman shot over, Paxman set up Heard and his shot from around twenty-five yards took a deflection as it spun towards goal, but this time it was our opponents who were counting their blessings as the ball bounced off the crossbar. In between those two chances, Brodie became the third Cray Wanderers player to be booked for time wasting as he delayed the taking of a free kick.


There was still time for one final bit of drama, as McCann sent in a low cross from the left and the ball reached Wright at the far post, but he shot back across goal and wide of the opposite post. That would have been hard for our opponents to take as a draw was about the right result as although Invicta had greater possession, there is still the concern at the percentage of good chances being turned into goals at the moment. ‘The Wands’ looked a decent side and once they catch-up on their games in hand, expect them to climb the table.


Talking to Neil after the game, he was upbeat, saying: “Generally I thought we played well tonight, apart from the first fifteen minutes of the second half when we still seemed to be in the dressing room, but credit to Cray as we had put them under a lot of pressure in the first half and they came back well at the start of the second. “I was also pleased that we kept going until the end and in fact even after our late equaliser, we still had a couple of decent chances to win the game. “When you consider we had two of our more experienced players, Ronnie [Dolan] and Ade [Yusuff], drop out on the day it shows we still have the squad to field a good side, and I thought Jordan [Wright] was excellent coming back after injury.”


He then added: “There were a number of other good performances today, Smithy [David Smith] was excellent leading the line in Ade’s absence, I thought it was his best game for a while, and it was a shame he didn’t get the goal he deserved. “Ollie [Freeman] also did well when he came on, it is difficult for him as I haven’t seen a lot of him, but hopefully in the New Year when we have the League and Kent Senior Cups, he’ll get more game time to show what he can do.”


He then mentioned he was looking forward to a midweek off!: “We’ve had a very tough month with a number of difficult away games covering a lot of miles and we’ve played at the weekend and midweek, so it’ll be good to have a break next week and let the players take it a bit easier and recover from any slight knocks they may be carrying as we enter December.”     


Finally, many thanks to Cray Wanderers for their hospitality and we wish them well for the rest of the season. 




Cray Wanderers: Jack Turner, Freddie Barton, Kasim Aidoo, Dean Beckworth (Capt), Chris Dickson, Anthony Cook (Jack Hanson, 67 mins), Jamie Yila (Tom Hanfrey, 81 mins), Jai Reason, Adam Coombes (Cameron Brodie, 46 mins), Richie Danquah & Sam Skeffington, (Unused substitutes: Daniel Uchechi and Fjord Rogers).


Goalscorers: Anthony Cook (14 mins) and Jai Reason (52 mins).


Folkestone Invicta: Tim Roberts, Josh Vincent, Kieron McCann, Matt Newman, Callum Davies (Capt), Ryan Johnson, Scott Heard, Jordan Wright, David Smith, Ian Draycott (Ollie Freeman, 84 mins) & Alfie Paxman, (Unused substitutes: Luca Borrello, Micheal Everitt & Connor Collins).

Goalscorers: Jordan Wright (2 mins) & Callum Davies (89 mins).


Referee: Nathan Oakes

Assistant Referees: Richard Baker & Jack Ridge.


Attendance: 164, many thanks to all the Invicta fans who went to the game this evening to support the team, it is much appreciated.


Next Fixture: We are away yet again on Saturday (27th November), but we take a break from League action as we visit Hartley Wintney for a Buildbase F.A. Trophy Second Round Proper tie, kick-off 3:00pm.      Please noe there are still seats availabe for this game. to book your seat please ring JOHN on 07957688435