|Richard Murrill reports from Cressing Road|
Both sides draw a blank
Folkestone Invicta came back from Braintree with a point following a game of little incident at the Cressing Road Stadium on Saturday afternoon as they made it seven points out of nine from their last three matches.
When Invicta goalkeeper Tony Kessell kept out centre half Ollie Adedeji’s header from a corner on the right deep into stoppage time it was the first time either goalkeeper had been called into serious action.
At the other end, Invicta did not have one noteworthy effort on goal and did not win a corner throughout the entire game, and yet Neil Cugley’s side will have been pleased to have taken something from the game.
The recent additions of Andy Burke, Kevin Watson, Paul Sykes and Steve Norman have made Invicta more competitive again at Ryman Premier League level and more akin to their hard-to-beat early season selves.
Most recent signing Norman’s second appearance at sweeper has helped to result in two consecutive clean sheets for Invicta, with Adam Flanagan moving to the left hand side of the defence and John Guest outstanding at centre half.
The introduction of Sykes, alongside top goalscorer James Dryden, has given the Invicta side better balance, with Simon Glover attacking down the left hand side and Burke having to adopt a more central role behind the front two.
Draw specialists Braintree have now finished level in ten of their 19 league matches so far this season, including a 2-2 draw at the Westbourne Stadium back in October. The Irons have now drawn six out of their ten home league games and this latest stalemate follows a 0-0 draw at home to Northwood the previous Saturday.
Invicta’s only other goalless draw so far this season had also come in Essex on a very hot day in Billericay back in September.
Visiting Invicta supporters will probably remember Saturday’s game more for the light-hearted banter with always verbal Braintree manager George Borg after the match than for anything that took place during the game.
Gavin McGowan shot wide for the home side after 27 minutes when he ran at the Invicta defence after big centre forward Alex Revell had laid the ball to former Welling defender Billy Burgess.
Chances remained few and far between during the second half as Braintree did most of the pressing, while Invicta hoped to snatch a win on the break.
The home side introduced former Welling legend Gary Abbott on the hour and Guest made a good tackle when the ball threatened to come through to Revell after 68 minutes.
For Invicta, Burke’s through ball sent Dryden away after 72 minutes and home goalkeeper Danny Gay’s reaction as he came out to claim the ball led to a brief flare up.
Invicta were briefly reduced to ten men when Micheal Everitt needed to go off for treatment, but he returned and it was the midfielder who played the ball out dangerously close to his own goal to concede Braintree’s eighth and last corner which led to Adedeji’s last ditch chance.
A competitive game, but in no way a classic.
For the record, Bradley Quinton was making his 200th starting appearance for Braitnree.
BRAINTREE TOWN: Gay, Burgess, Jones, Adedeji, Lorraine, Quinton, McGowan (Abbott 60), Porter, Revell (Martin 78), Remy, Riddle. Subs: Baker, Good, Evans.
FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Kessell, Watson, Sykes, Flanagan, Guest, Norman, M. Everitt, Munday, Dryden, Burke, Glover. Subs: Lindsey, Coleman, Walker, J. Everitt, Dyson.