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In-form ace Booth bags two as Invicta dominate but just can't end Whitstable's unbeaten league record at Belmont



Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley was sent to the stands as his side drew 2-2 away to Whitstable Town in a highly-charged game at The Oystermen's Belmont Ground on Tuesday night.

Paul Booth (pictured) scored twice as Invicta opened and closed the scoring. But it was the circumstances surrounding Whitstable’s first goal - the equaliser that made it 1-1 that caused the controversy as Invicta appealed in vain for offside.

Goalscorer Tom Loynes and three colleagues were well clear of the Invicta defence as the ball came forward to the right hand side – though that does not in itself make them offside – but it was an apparent distortion of the facts surrounding the incident that caused manager Cugley to uncharacteristically lose his temper as he sought an explanation from the officials at half time.

He was subsequently sent to the stands for the second half by referee Peter Conn.


The drizzly conditions contributed to what turned into a thrilling encounter as The Oystermen went ahead through Kane Rowland after the interval before Booth levelled on the hour.

Invicta's old rival Jim Ward’s Whitstable remain unbeaten at home in the Ryman League Division One South so far this season.

Invicta deserved at least a point on the night but had goalkeeper Tim Roberts to thank for an excellent save to deny Rowland a late winner right on the final whistle.

The Folkestone side had gone into the game with the same starting eleven that had won convincingly at Horsham on Saturday and the visitors were soon on top here also.

Darren Smith played the ball into the penalty area when the home defence gave the ball away in the sixth minute but the chance went astray despite Jon Pilbeam getting a touch in the middle.

Pilbeam then took the ball on but home goalkeeper Luke Watkins comfortably saved his low shot when the game’s first corner came back out.

The opening goal came in the 13th minute when the ball was played up to Pilbeam on the right hand side and his good delivery across goal was put in by BOOTH.

Smith then shot at Watkins after another ball in from Pilbeam two minutes later.

There were chances at both ends on the quarter of an hour mark as Joe Kennett over-ran the ball when Scott Heard played it through and an Ian Draycott shot was saved by Watkins.

Invicta were close again in the 18th minute when Nat Blanks struck the crossbar from the left hand side.

Home striker Rowland then scuffed his shot wide when the ball fell to him on the right hand side of the penalty area a minute later.

Home captain Ian Pulman then drilled the ball across goal from the right after receiving it from Kennett but Roberts held.

Whitstable goalkeeper Watkins touched the ball away before Draycott could pounce in the 29th minute when visiting captain Liam Friend played the ball up to Booth and Watkins held when Pilbeam played the ball back in from the right.

A Booth shot then curled over on the half an hour mark when Smith played the ball up to Pilbeam.


But the home side's controverisial equaliser came after 34 minutes when Pulman - very briefly an Invicta player some years ago - played the ball through and LOYNES made the most of his break and put the ball past Roberts.

Invicta’s high line and offside trap has been a trademark of their play and has served them well in recent seasons but here, rightly or wrongly, it came unstuck.

Four Whitstable players waited in line for the ball to reach them but Jordan Wright is apparently said by the officials to have played them on side. Referee Conn looked across to his assistant referee for guidance but was not given any encouragement to disallow the goal.

A 41st minute Frankie Chappell header was saved by Watkins after a Smith corner from the right and Pilbeam fired over when the ball fell to him outside the penalty area two minutes later.

Roberts then had to come out and save in the 44th minute when Loynes slipped the ball through to Heard after Kennett had gained possession from Booth.

Invicta started the second half strongly as Chappell headed over a Smith corner from the right.

But the visitors were rocked when Whitstable went ahead in the 52nd minute as Heard’s ball in from the right was put in by ROWLAND.

Smith was booked for dissent as Invicta’s frustrations over-spilled again as the rain became heavier.

But Invicta stuck to their task and responded as a Pilbeam ball in from the right was met by Smith at the far post but was deflected past the post for a corner.

Low cross

The equaliser came when Smith played the ball up to Matt Newman and his low ball across the penalty area was converted by BOOTH for his second goal of the night.

It was now an end-to-end affair as a low Pulman shot was saved by Roberts after a Heard pass.

A low 65th minute Pilbeam shot was saved at the expense of a corner following a Newman ball to the right hand side.

Wright then cleared at the far post before it could reach Draycott when Kennett found Ashley Ulph on the right flank and Heard put the ball over from virtually on the line when Pulman got clear down the left hand side of the penalty area and played a low ball across.

At the other end, a 71st minute Smith free kick from the left was met by Chappell at the far post but headed just wide and into the side netting.

Booth then let fly from 25 yards and shot just over after receiving the ball from former Whitstable player Micheal Everitt.

Watkins touched the ball over for a corner in the 87th minute when Wright blasted the ball across goal after being picked out on the right by Newman.

Loynes shot wide across goal at the other end a minute later after going past Blanks down the right hand side when strikers Rowland and Pulman worked the ball across to him.


Watkins did well to get down and touch an 89th minute Smith free kick round the post for a corner from which the home goalkeeper then made a point-blank save to keep out a Chappell header from Smith’s ball in.

But Roberts was to save Invicta with his last-ditch superb save to deny Rowland from close range after a Loynes ball in from the right.

As well as Cugley and Smith, there were second half bookings for Whitstable’s Aaron James (73rd minute elbow on Pilbeam), Pulman (dissent in the 76th minute when nothing was given after a sliding challenge by Blanks on Heard) and Nick Treadwell (89th minute trip on Draycott) and Invicta’s Pilbeam (stoppage time challenge on Treadwell).

Neither side made a substitution thoughout the entire 90 minutes,

And Invicta's domination can be judged by the corner count of 11 to one in their favour. 

WHITSTABLE TOWN: Watkins, Ulph, Wedgeworth, Doherty, James, Treadwell, Heard, Kennett, Pulman, Rowland, Loynes.  Unused subs: Mackenzie, Guila, Crimmen, Healey, Riveria. 

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Wright, Blanks, Friend, Chappell, Newman, Pilbeam, Smith, Draycott, Booth, M. Everitt.  Unused subs: Taylor, Edge, Palmer, Fender. 

Attendance: 213.

Corners: Whitstable 1 Invicta 11