Cray Wanderers 2 – 3 Folkestone Invicta
Cray Wanderers 2 – 3 Folkestone Invicta

There was late drama as Isthmian Premier League football returned to Hayes Lane after a five year absence as Folkestone Invicta came from behind to grab a stoppage time winner. Johan Ter Horst’s well hit shot made it two wins out of two for Invicta and defeat for Cray Wanderers

On a very wet and soggy mid-August evening Folkestone came out of the traps quickest and went in front after three minutes when Jerson Dos Santos finished clinically and it looked to be a difficult evening for Tony Russell’s side especially when Matt Newman’s header was cleared off the line. 

Cray though battled back and Bradley Pritchard hit the bar before levelling through a classy Andre Coker strike four minutes before the break.

Cray took control of the game after half time and Coker scored his second five minutes into the second half with a near post shot and Charlie Allen and Freddie Parker saw further efforts hit the woodwork. 

Folkestone though were always a threat and levelled on 81 minutes with a stunning strike from Dos Santos.

The game looked to be heading for a draw when in the second minute of injury time, a header was flicked on from a throw in and Ter Horst was quickest to react to shoot low into the bottom right corner of the net to win the game for Folkestone.

Cray had begun their campaign with a gutsy and merited point from a 0-0 draw at Kingstonian on Saturday. 

There were a couple of changes to the starting lineup for Cray with Bradley Pritchard and Jerome Federico coming in for Karl Dent and Tom Murphy.

  For Folkestone, they began with a solid 2-0 home win against Worthing with goals from Jerson Dos Santos and Ira Jackson and Neil Cugley named an unchanged side.

On a very murky and grey night it needed something to lift the unseasonal gloom and both teams set out at a good pace but it was Folkestone who started the more impressive and after three minutes took the lead when Joe Taylor played a ball back towards goal but the lively Dos Santos latched onto the pass, strode on down the right of the area and buried a low shot into the bottom left corner giving Lewis Carey no chance to save.

Folkestone were impressive in those early minutes and almost grabbed a second in the 12th minute when from a corner down the left, Scott Heard’s ball into the area was met with a free header by Matt Newman and would have scored but for a fine Tom Carlse clearance off the line.

Cray slowly got into the game and Bradley Pritchard played a neat pass to Freddie Parker down the right who broke into the area and his low shot was gathered by Tim Roberts.  This was followed shortly after by Carlse finding Andre Coker who drove a shot wide of the left post.

Folkestone then had a good spell of possession and from a free kick, Sam Hasler’s ball to the near post was again met by Newman but his header was blocked by a defender.

On 24 minutes Cray were unlucky not to level after some neat passing, Taylor played the ball to Jerome Federico down the right and his ball into the box found Pritchard who saw his shot come back off the crossbar.

Just before the half hour, Heard tested Carey with a shot from 20 yards and almost scored a second when Dos Santos who was causing problems with his switching of play put a fine ball through to Kieron McCann who burst through but Carey did well to come off his line and McCann put the ball just wide.

Johan Ter Horst then found McCann again down the left and drove a shot just over the angle of post and bar and McCann once again came close with a curling shot just over from Michael Everitt’s pass.

Invicta appeared to be in control but four minutes before half time Cray drew level after a patient build up the ball came to Federico whose ball across was not well dealt with by the Folkestone defence and came to Coker who took a touch, found space and rifled a superb finish wide of Roberts into the bottom right

This gave Cray some late first half impetus and Coker became provider with a neat ball into the area and Pritchard’s header went just over the top. 

If the first half was dramatic then the second topped it.  Both sides made a half time change with Charlie Allen coming on for his Wands debut in place of Lee Lewis while Finn O’Mara came on for Josh Vincent for Folkestone.

Cray carried on where they left off at the end of the first half with a storming start to the second and five minutes after the restart went ahead.  Pritchard played a superb pass out to Coker down the left who took on a defender, raced into the box and his near post shot took perhaps a slight deflection which wrongfooted Roberts and Cray had turned things around in style.

Cray came close to a third when Allen stole into the area from Mitchell Nelson’s throw in down the right and his header bounced off the top of the bar from 10 yards.

Then to say Cray were unlucky is an understatement when from a free kick fully 30 yards out, Parker stepped up to shoot and his cannonball of a shot crashed back off the crossbar and back out well into play. 

From another free kick, out on the right, Parker’s ball into the box was helped on by Nelson and Tom Phipp nudged a header towards goal which was held by Roberts.

Folkestone eventually weathered the storm and began to threaten once again and Dos Santos found Hasler who shot over from 20 yards. 

With nine minutes left Folkestone drew level with a stunning strike from Dos Santos who picked up a pass from Heard and he cut inside and from just outside the area curled a beauty into the top left corner giving Carey no chance to save.

Two minutes later it should really have been 3-2 to Folkestone this time with Dos Santos the provider again, he laid the ball to McCann who with the goal seemingly at his mercy saw his shot take a deflection possibly off Carey and over the bar for a corner.

Both sides probed for a winner with Dent seeing a shot deflected behind for a corner as did Ira Jackson whose shot took a nick off a defender to turn the ball wide.

The game was just entering injury time when in the second minute of stoppage time a ball was flicked on by McCann and reacting quickest, Ter Horst rifled home a low shot from 12 yards into the bottom right and Folkestone had like Cray had earlier turned the game around.

There wasn’t enough time for Cray to stage another fightback and Folkestone saw out the remaining minutes to make it two wins out of two.

Cray were unfortunate not to come away with at least a point for their efforts but maybe last season they would have seen the game out but in the Premier the teams are less forgiving and can punish you for missed chances.

There was still a lot to commend Cray on for their performance and once again Carlse was excellent, Pritchard had a great game in midfield and Federico and Coker showed real glimpses of quality throughout the match.

Cray next take on Corinthian Casuals at Hayes Lane on Saturday in what will be another tough game.

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Tom Carlse, Mitchell Nelson, Tom Phipp, Lee Lewis (Charlie Allen, H/T), Bradley Pritchard, Freddie Parker (Karl Dent, 77), Jerome Federico (Tom Murphy, 74), Andre Coker, Joe Taylor 

Subs: Charles Etumnu, Joe Vines

Booked:   Phipp, Parker  

Goals: Coker 41, 50

Folkestone Invicta:  Tim Roberts, Josh Vincent (Finn O’Mara, H/T), Alfie Paxman, Matt Newman, Callum Davies, Sam Hasler, Scott Heard, Michael Everitt (Ira Jackson, 72). Johan Ter Horst, Jerson Dos Santos, Kieron McCann

Subs: Nat Blanks, Ronnie Dolan, Henry Newcombe 

Goals: Dos Santos 3, 81, Ter Horst 90+2

Referee: Lee Dyson  

Assistants: Robert Columb, Daniel Doyle

Attendance: 240