Folkestone Invicta fired a blank at home for the first time this season as they stuttered to a 0-0 draw against lowly Rothwell Town in front of a 340 crowd at the Westbourne Stadium on a cold Saturday afternoon.
It was the first goalless draw at Cheriton Road since the visit of Welling United on Easter Monday 2002.
Having cruised to a 4-1 win at Rothwell on the opening day of the season, Invicta would have expected to take all three points from this game.
But though they have only scored seven league goals all season, Rothwell have tightened up defensively since a recent change of manager and worked hard for their point on Saturday.
The drama of Invicta’s hard-fought extra time midweek F. A. Trophy replay win over Havant & Waterlooville may also have taken something out of an Invicta side which is renowned for its attacking prowess.
Strikers Allan Tait and James Dryden are both near the top of the Eastern Division goalscoring charts, but chances were few and far between for the pair on this occasion.
When Mark Munday headed at goalkeeper John Hughes from Paul Lamb’s free kick as early as the second minute, you would have expected it to have been the start of an early onslaught from the home side.
But, remarkably, it was the closest Invicta were to come during a disappointing first half.
Rothwell enjoyed a good spell in the run up to half time as Invicta goalkeeper Tony Kessell had to get across to his left to save James Le Massurier’s shot from the edge of the box after 38 minutes.
Invicta centre half Adam Flanagan then blocked Jonathan Mitchell’s shot when James Thatcher broke down the right after 42 minutes.
And John Guest headed clear from close to the goal line after 45 minutes following a free kick from the left which had been conceded by the same Invicta defender.
It continued to be a frustrating afternoon for the home side during the second half and Lee Blackman replaced Martin Chandler after 74 minutes as the Folkestone side finished the game with three forwards.
A Lamb corner from the left reached the far post but took former Margate colleague Munday by surprise and came off the Invicta midfielder for a goal kick after 82 minutes.
Invicta’s Tait was booked for dissent after 76 minutes and Rothwell’s Le Massurier was cautioned for encroachment at a free kick after 88 minutes.
The game did mark the first appearance on the substitutes’ bench of 15-year-striker Oliver Waters, who did find the net four times on the same pitch the next morning as the youth team beat Deal Town youths 6-0 in a K. C. F. A. Youth Cup tie.
FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Kessell, Watkins (Everitt 71 mins), Lamb, Flanagan, Guest, Hogg, Chandler (Blackman 74 mins), Munday, Dryden, Tait, Lindsey. Unused subs: Millar, Waters, Holdway.
ROTHWELL TOWN: Hughes, Thatcher, Lester, Porter, Rice, Cook (Page 74 mins), Quincey, Hanney, Le Massurier, Mitchell, Flannigan. Unused subs: Capps, Haughton, Smith.