Folkestone Invicta 2-1 Horsham
Folkestone Invicta 2-1 Horsham

Another bright sunny day greeted the players of Folkestone Invicta and Horsham as they squared up for the Pitching In Isthmian League Premier Division points, with Invicta lying in 3rd whilst ‘The Hornets’ had made an uncharacteristic slow start and were down in 15th.

Invicta made one change to the starting line-up that won at Corinthian the previous week, with Ian Draycott replacing Scott Heard in midfield, whilst for our opponents also made a change in the middle of the park, with Rob O’Toole coming in for Lee Harding from their starting line-up from Tuesday’s Emirates F.A. Cup replay against Haywards Heath Town. 

Surprisingly, the game made a slow start and there wasn’t much to show from either side. Charlie Harris saw an early cross collected by Tim Roberts after the Invicta defence had failed to clear, whilst at the other end, Josh Vincent played the ball to David Smith who sent in a dangerous cross, but it was cleared by Alex Malins before it could reach Alfie Paxman behind him. Then following a foul in midfield, Will Miles tried a speculative free kick from some forty yards but Roberts was alert to the situation and caught the ball as it came in. 

Invicta then won a free kick on the edge of the area after Smith had been fouled, Ronnie Dolan’s kick was cleared, but Vincent played it back in and Smith nodded wide when well placed at the back post. Harvey Sparks then threatened making a good run, only to shoot wide from around twenty yards. Matt Newman fouled Rob O’Toole with a high tackle, which on another day may have earned him a yellow card. And from the resulting free kick, Tom Richards saw his shot half-cleared, before Harris sent in a cross which was nodded clear by Callum Davies for a corner which was headed wide. Following Newman’s tackle the game got increasingly niggly and eventually, Miles got the game’s first yellow card, which was more likely to have been for persistent fouling rather than the one-off foul, and he had been particularly vocal over the Newman tackle.

That was about it for the first half-hour, which considering the footballing pedigree of the two sides had been disappointing with too many long balls, misplaced passes, and a distinct lack of urgency as the game seemed quite flat at this stage.

Paxman played in Draycott and although his pass was intercepted it wasn’t cleared, which allowed Smith to feed Yusuff and his low cross was well collected by Sam Howes in the Horsham goal. Horsham also continued to probe, firstly Shamir Fenelon played the ball to Tom Day and his cross was cleared by Vincent at the second attempt and when the ball came back in Day was adjudged offside, then, following a good run from ‘The Hornets’ skipper Jack Brivio, he slipped the ball through to Fenelon, but the striker couldn’t make a full connection and the ball ran through to Roberts. Having collected it, the Invicta goalkeeper sent a long kick downfield, which was controlled by Draycott who played the ball to Smith, but he also failed to make a clean connection and his shot was easily saved by Howes, and then Paxman also forced a save from the Horsham goalkeeper as he broke through after Dolan had played the ball to him. Smith then went close as following a long throw from Paxman, he found himself unmarked at the near post, but his back header went straight into the hands of Howes.

That was the end of the action for the first half, although there was still time for Draycott to pick up a yellow card for a late tackle on Brivio, but that was it and the end of what was largely a forgettable first half with chances at a premium, perhaps the four spectators at the Wilmoth end who had turned round to watch the cricket had got it right!!

For the second half Luke Robinson replaced O’Toole, who was probably still feeling the affects of that earlier tackle. Almost immediately the tempo picked up and Yusuff and Smith combined well to set up Dolan who’s shot cleared the bar. Horsham then broke and but for an excellent interception of a Harris through ball by a  Vincent, Richards would have been through on goal, but it was at a cost as the defender had overstretched and had to be replaced by Finn O’Mara in the 51st minute.

In what was already a better half, Smith put in a low cross which Howes collected and then our opponents broke away with Richards, who was finding more space and looking increasingly dangerous on the left, won a corner, but strangely it created an Invicta chance. The ball was cleared and Yusuff did a clever back-heel to play Jordan Wright in, but his cross was charged down for a corner, and then Fenelon had a great chance at the other end as he burst through the Invicta defence to find himself one-on-one with Roberts but the Invicta goalkeeper was up to the task, making a save diving to his right, although Fenelon really ought to have scored.

However, he didn’t have to wait long though for his goal, as after O’Mara had failed to clear the ball, allowing Richards to dispossess him and send in a low cross, which the Horsham striker cleverly deflected into the net to put our opponents ahead. To the players’ credit, despite going behind their heads didn’t drop and within two minutes we’d restored parity with an historic goal. Yusuff sent in a deep cross which was met by Wright at the far post, his header went across goal and was returned by Paxman to Draycott to slot the ball home, although being the classy player he is he made it look a lot easier than it was. That goal was his 141st for the club, which equalled Jimmy Dryden’s record since Invicta got Senior Status before the start of the 1992/93 season. 

Yusuff then sent in another dangerous cross, but this time it was scrambled clear despite the attentions of Draycott and Smith. In the 63rd minute, Horsham made their second substitution, with Tom Kavanagh replacing Brivio, who had been unable to shake off a knock he had received in the first half, but it was their other substitute, Robinson, who had a chance as O’Mara inexplicably played a crossfield ball to him, but his shot was deflected by Roberts’ feet for a corner. Yusuff then played the ball to Dolan, but his shot was well charged down by Malins for a corner, from which Horsham had a two-on-two break, but O’Mara was covering well and cleared the danger.

In the 71st minute, Invicta took the lead. O’Mara played an excellent ball out of defence and over the Horsham full back Sparks, which allowed Wright to break clear and his cross was deflected for a corner, from which a scramble ensued and eventually Smith acrobatically sent the ball towards goal, and despite Howes clawing the ball out, with the ‘ghost of Enfield Town’ still hanging over the BuildKent Stadium, the Assistant Referee flagged that it had crossed the line to put us in the ascendancy. Randolph File’s picture perfectly captures the moment. 

We then had a close call as Ryan Johnson deflected a cross towards his own goal, but Roberts was alert to the danger and caught the viciously spinning ball as it threatened to dip under the bar. At the other end Draycott started and then got on the end of a clever move involving Dolan and Smith but he couldn’t quite get his shot away as the goalscoring record beckoned. Horsham then made a further change as long-serving Gary Charman came on for defender Day as our opponents pushed for an equaliser, but it was Harris that caused alarm in the Invicta defence as he had two strikes on goal, the  first was caught by Roberts, whilst the second was tipped over the bar by the Invicta goalkeeper.

With Horsham getting on top, Draycott was replaced by Heard with eight minutes to go and that negated any further threats. Fenelon was booked for dissent as he got increasingly frustrated and there was still time for Invicta to suffer a further injury blow when ‘Man of the Match’ Dolan received a kick on the ankle and had to be replaced by Micheal Everitt.

So, another three points for Invicta, with a much improved second half performance, with what could be an important win as despite their current lowly position, ‘The Hornets’ are one of the better sides in the Division and would be expected to mount a Play-off challenge and be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.  

After the game I spoke to Neil who said: “I was disappointed with the first half, our passing was poor, although really I thought we just cancelled each other out. “However, in the second half I thought we were much better and played more like I know we can, and I was pleased that we showed our mettle in coming back from a goal behind.” 

I asked Neil about the injuries received during the game: “It’s a bit early to comment yet on the injuries, but hopefully JV [Josh Vincent] and Ronnie [Dolan] will be okay for Tuesday, but we’ll have to wait and see. “Although I’ve got some better news concerning Aaron [Simpson], I spoke to him today and he says he is feeling a lot better, so if we need a replacement for Tuesday he may hopefully come into contention.”

Finally, he added: “I’d like to thank the supporters today who really got behind us when things weren’t going quite so well, especially in the first half. “Even in the second when we went behind, I didn’t hear any comments from the stands, although admittedly it wasn’t for long! “This shows how we are all in this together and hopefully we shall continue to serve up performances that keep you entertained.”   

The game was sponsored by the club’s Youth Section with the Under 12s leading the team out and then acting as ball boys during it. After the game, their Coaches, David Adams, and Kevin Kelly,  presented a well-earned ‘Man of the Match’ award to Ronnie Dolan, who was heavily involved in the game, although he eventually had to go off having received a knock. 

Folkestone Invicta: Tim Roberts, Josh Vincent (Finn O’Mara, 51 mins), Jordan Wright, Matt Newman, Callum Davies (Capt), Ryan Johnson, Ian Draycott (Scott Heard, 82 mins), Ronnie Dolan (Micheal Everitt, 87 mins), David Smith, Ade Yusuff & Alfie Paxman, (Unused substitutes: Tyler Sterling & Connor Collins). 

Goalscorers: Ian Draycott (60 mins) & David Smith (71 mins).

Horsham: Sam Howes, Tom Day (Gary Charman, 76 mins), Harvey Sparks, Doug Tuck, Alex Malins, Will Miles, Rob O’Toole (Luke Robinson, 46 mins), Jack Brivio (Capt) (Tom Kavanagh, 64 mins), Shamir Fenelon, Charlie Harris & Tom Richards, (Unused substitutes: Chris Smith & Danny Dudley). 

Referee: Rhys Battye

Assistant Referees: Kieran Cox & Gavin Bailey.

Attendance: Another excellent attendance of 772 today, thanks again to everyone who came to the BuildKent Stadium to support their respective team, hopefully you enjoyed the game. 

Next Fixture: On Tuesday (14th September), we visit East Thurrock United for a Pitching In Isthmian League Premier Division game, kick-off 7:45pm. 

Saturday’s Premier Division Results

Bishop’s Stortford1Hornchurch0
Bognor Regis Town1Carshalton Athletic0
Bowers & Pitsea3Wingate & Finchley1
Folkestone Invicta2Horsham1
Haringey Borough0Corinthian-Casuals1
Kingstonian3Brightlingsea Regent1
Lewes4Enfield Town1
Worthing3East Thurrock United2

Sunday’s Premier Division Fixture

Cray WanderersvsPotters Bar Town

League Table

Kingstonian 5500123+915
Folkestone Invicta 541082+613
Margate 532084+411
Enfield Town 531186+210
Haringey Borough 530295+49
Worthing 5302109+19
Lewes 5221107+38
Bognor Regis Town 522164+28
Carshalton Athletic 521275+27
Brightlingsea Regent 521256-17
Hornchurch 520375+26
Cray Wanderers420276+16
Merstham 520327-56
Cheshunt 512265+15
East Thurrock United 5122710-35
Bishop’s Stortford 512259-45
Horsham 511357-24
Bowers & Pitsea 5113912-34
Corinthian-Casuals 511347-34
Wingate & Finchley 5113611-54
Potters Bar Town410349-53
Leatherhead 5104612-63