An injury time equaliser from Stamford’s Kevin Byrne denied Folkestone Invicta victory at the Westbourne Stadium on Saturday afternoon in a game during which the visitors opened and completed the scoring.
Byrne struck over two minutes into stoppage time after Invicta had turned the game around with a much improved second half performance.
Invicta were caught out by a long ball over the home defence which BYRNE latched onto to take the ball round goalkeeper Tony Kessell and earn his side a share of the spoils.
The visitors had taken an early lead through Mark Paul, but second half goals from top goalscorer Allan Tait and new signing Anthony Hogg appeared to have been enough for Neil Cugley’s side.
With skipper Scott Lindsey serving a one-match suspension, Invicta adopted a 4-4-2 formation, with Drew Watkins coming in for Micheal Everitt at right back and Mark Munday taking over as captain.
But the home side were rocked after 11 minutes when PAUL unleashed a scorcher into the top corner of the net from 20 yards.
On a heavy pitch, things did not go Invicta’s way during the first half as Hogg couldn’t force the ball over the line from close ranger after 20 minutes when Czech goalkeeper Ludek Michalik saved from James Millar after the midfielder had combined with John Ayling.
Big Michalik got down to his left to push a low Ayling shot round the post for a corner after the striker had won the ball back and skipped past a couple of challenges after 36 minutes.
But Stamford had further chances of their own as goalkeeper Kessell tipped a Paul shot over following a scramble in the Invicta box after 38 minutes and Byrne didn’t make the most of his chance when a big kick from Michalik eluded centre half John Guest.
Invicta then had Kessell to thank for a vital save from Gareth Pritchard during first half stoppage time when an attempted clearance from Guest hit Byrne who played the ball across.
There was still time for Invicta’s Tait to break down the left and force a save from Michalik before half time.
Invicta went at Stamford during the second half as Tait shot on the turn at Michalik when a throw in from the right fell to him after 47 minutes.
Michalik then made a great save to deny Ayling after 51 minutes when Tait played the ball into his path following a good combination between the two Invicta strikers.
Ayling shot over following an attack down the left after 54 minutes as Invicta enjoyed a spell of pressure.
And TAIT made it 1-1 when he nodded in from just in front of Michalik when Paul Lamb dinked the ball in from the left after 56 minutes.
Invicta were now playing some good stuff and a Stamford defender good back to deny Hogg after 59 minutes following a great Martin Chandler through ball when Ayling and Tait combined well again. Guest headed over Lamb’s subsequent corner as the home side were now on top.
But, at the other end, Pritchard hit the outside of the Invicta post from a 20-yard free kick after 65 minutes following a foul on Ian Edge.
Invicta went ahead after 69 minutes when HOGG celebrated a permanent move from Gravesend & Northfleet to Invicta by drilling the ball home after a Tait shot had been charged down when Ayling played the ball to him.
It could have been better for the home side as Michalik touched a Tait header onto the top of the crossbar when Watkins sent in a deep cross from the right after 71 minutes.
The Stamford goal led a charmed life as Tait and Ayling both saw shots somehow stay out when a ball in from the right led to a goalmouth melee.
Hogg tested Michalik again after 74 minutes when Watkins played the ball in to him and Chandler hit a great shot at the goalkeeper when Hogg’s cross from the left came all the way across to him on the right.
Paul drilled his shot wide from the edge of the box after 79 minutes when he was allowed to run at the Invicta defence.
But Stamford were to get one last chance and Byrne was to take full advantage.
FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Kessell, Watkins, Lamb, Flanagan, Guest, Hogg, Chandler (Everitt 86 mins), Munday, Ayling (Blackman 90 mins), Tait, Millar. Unused subs: Winfield, Dyson, Holdway.
STAMFORD: Michalik, Nash, Peaks, Ashby, Blowers, Green, Edge, Pritchard, Byrne, Paul, Ainslie (Thompson 72 mins). Unused subs: Naylor, Forgacs.