Folkestone Invicta took the honours in Boxing Day morning’s East Kent derby at home to Ashford Town as Neil Cugley’s side avenged their defeat against the manager’s former club back on the August Bank Holiday Monday.
Adam Flanagan, Martin Chandler and James Dryden scored the Invicta goals in front of an 825 crowd in a match played amidst blustery conditions on a heavy pitch.
Invicta welcomed top goalscorer Allan Tait back into their starting line up after his recent hamstring injury and gave a debut to loan signing Tim Hambley from Welling United in midfield.
The home side had an early chance when Anthony Hogg’s shot from the edge of the penalty area was turned round the post by goalkeeper John Whitehouse after Paul Lamb had sent the game’s first corner over from the right hand side.
And it was from another Lamb corner from the right that Invicta were to open the scoring after 13 minutes. Ashford goalkeeper Whitehouse found himself under pressure from the incoming Invicta attack and FLANAGAN got the vital touch to force the ball over the line. Referee Barry Gee saw nothing untoward and gave the goal, while Whitehouse was booked for his protests and Ashford captain Joe Wade continued the discussion with the officials as the players left the field for half time.
The corner had been forced by Tait down the right after a great ball from debutant Hambley.
Ashford then got back into the game as they created the better of the remaining first half chances.
A Paul Jones shot from the edge of the area was touched over by goalkeeper Tony Kessell as Ashford forced their first corner of the game after 20 minutes and Adrian Stone cut in from the left and hit a sweet strike just over the crossbar after 25 minutes.
Kessell then produced a brilliant save after 31 minutes to deny Mike Azzoapardi when the one-time Invicta player seemed set to equalise following a well-worked move.
Ashford made a double substitution at half time as Joby Thorogood and Tommy Adlingotn replaced Jones and Azzopardi.
But Invicta were 2-0 up after 47 minutes thanks to a special strike from CHANDLER. The 20-year-old midfielder took a ball from Mark Munday first time from outside the penalty area and had an element of fortune as his dipping shot struck the post but went in off the unfortunate Whitehouse.
Invicta were now in the ascendancy and John Guest had a shot deflected just wide of the post after 50 minutes.
But Ashford were thrown a lifeline when substitute THOROGOOD pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after himself being fouled by Scott Lindsey in the 54th minute.
DRYDEN, though, restored Inivcta two-goal advantage after 61 minutes with a great header from Chandler’s accurate right wing cross after Tait had spread the ball out wide.
Chandler had scored one and set one up during the second half, but the assist was to be his final act as he limped off immediately after the third goal and misses Invicta’s next two matches through suspension.
Ashford goalscorer Thorogood didn’t make the most of his chance to pull another goal back when striking partner Stone pulled the ball back to him after 75 minutes.
As well as Whitehouse, there were bookings for Invicta’s Tait (foul on Wade after 60 minutes) and for Ashford’s Dean Hill (tackle from behind on Flanagan after 33 minutes) and Sammy Saunders (foul on Dryden after 67 minutes).
FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Kessell, Lindsey, Lamb, Flanagan, Guest, Hogg (Millar 82 mins), Chandler (Everitt 62 mins), Munday, Dryden, Tait (Ayling 81 mins), Hambley. Unused subs: Blackman, Egan.
ASHFORD TOWN: Whitehouse, Anderson, Hill, O’Leary, Gillman, Wade, Azzopardi (Adlington 45 mins), Saunders, Jones (Thorogood 45 mins), Stone, Elliott (Skinner 72 mins). Unused sub: Gardner.