Please credit to Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk
|Stephen McCartney reports from Westbourne Stadium|
|Folkestone Invicta||3||John Guest 8
Stuart Myall 35
James Dryden 71
|Slough Town||1||Daniel Cann 20|
Invicta dedicated victory to Paul Sykes
INVICTA manager Neil Cugley was quick to dedicate their victory over Slough Town
to Paul Sykes as they maintained their Ryman Premier League status on the eve of
the 28-year-old's funeral.
It took the Kent side only eight minutes to take the lead against a side playing their third away game of the week.
John Guest fired home his sixth goal of the season in a goal mouth scramble to send them on their way.
However, their Berkshire visitors equalised after 20 minutes. Danny Steer managed to keep the ball in and from the left flank belted the ball upfield. Daniel Cann latched onto the ball and after beating the home defence slotted home inside the far post from six yards.
Being successful in the cups causes fixture backlogs for clubs and this is the problem for Slough. Good runs in the FA Cup, FA Trophy and Bryco Cup - they meet Hampton & Richmond Borough in next Thursday's Final - Eddie Denton's side has had to endure three games a week since Easter.
Therefore being reduced to ten men with 57 minutes left to play wasn't going to help their cause.
Mark Munday's fierce drive was handled on the line by James Salusbury, who was shown a red card by West Wickham referee Ian Bentley.
Paul Lamb's penalty struck the right post but Scott Lindsey crossed to Stuart Myall who headed down and the ball bounced over former Leeds United goalkeeper Shaun Allaway and defenders and found the far corner to open his Invicta account.
An impressive second half performance from Simon Glover, whose penetrating runs caused a tired visiting defence problems, made sure of the vital victory.
The first chance of the second half came on 59 minutes when Myall's dipping 25-yard volley just dropped over the bar.
Lamb drove a first time shot over the bar from 16 yards after linking up well with Glover on the left hand side.
But Slough's highly rated striker Matt Miller should have pulled a goal back in the 66th minute. Captalising on a mistake from the Invicta defence the prolific striker, with only Tony Kessell to beat, fired well wide of the far post.
But when James Dryden scored his 25th goal of the season in the 71st minute, Invicta made sure they will be playing Ryman Premier League football in August. His header cannoned back off the crossbar and back into play and the poacher reacted the quickest to nod home.
Invicta, who attend Sykes' funeral on Friday, can relax for their last home game of the season against Staines Town on Saturday before they end their campaign with a trip to basement boys Kingstonian on Saturday week.
"It's been the worse week in my life, I think, let alone in football really," Neil Cugley admitted sitting inside his office after the game.
"I'm pleased with the players because they've stuck together and obviously we're pleased we've won and I would like to dedicate that to Paul Sykes."
The first-half sending off assisted Invicta to collect the three points they required.
"The big turning point was when they had the lad sent off for handball on the line and I think we just kicked on from there," added Cugley.
"I thought Glovesey (Simon Glover) did ever so well running at people. They were tired and the one thing they didn't want was somebody running at them.
"I thought we done well, there was
a bit of pressure and as you say, what's gone on has taken its toll. I am absolutely
delighted for the players."
As the club prepare for another emotional day, everyone will be allowed to let their hair down ahead of their final home game of the season - and Cugley was very quick to praise the clubs fans for their support.
"The players will have a few beers I suppose and think of the good times we've had with Paul (Sykes). So I think I might be using most of the squad on Saturday, the younger lads especially second half and hopefully keep the pace of the game up.
"I think if there is a plus from anything like this is it has brought us closer together.
"We are not a big club - we don't pretend to be, we run on a smallish squad and the players and fans and the chairman sort of know each other, we've only got two directors and we are a very close club.
"If anything it will hopefully bring us even closer together for next season and it could be the only thing that might have come out of this."
The Westbourne Stadium (Cheriton Road) can now look forward to staging Ryman Premier League football next season.
"You think where we were a few years ago when we were in the Kent League and now we are one of the better sides in Kent with how the pyramid works," added Cugley.
"We haven't thrown loads of money at it, we just plod away.
"We have to be very pleased what we have achieved and absolutely delighted to stay in the Premier League.
"We've enjoyed it, not too much travelling and we don't have a lot of travelling expenses. It suits our club."
Folkestone Invicta: Tony Kessell, Steve Norman, Paul Lamb, Adam Flanagan, John Guest, Scott Lindsey (Capt), Michael Everitt, Stuart Myall, James Dryden, Mark Munday, Simon Glover. Subs: Joe Neilson, James Everitt, John Walker, Dan Tanner, Kieran Mann (GK)
Slough Town: Shaun Allaway, Josias Carbon (Leigh Mason 87), Michael Murphy, Steve Daly (Capt, Ian Hodge 55), James Saulsbury (sent off 33), Ryan Spencer, Sam Shepherd, Veli Hakki (Adam Kassim 71), Daniel Cann, Matt Miller, Danny Steer. Subs: Christian Metcalfe, Michael Parkin (GK)
Referee: Ian Bentley (West Wickham)
Assistants: Gary Croft (Battle) & Carl Brook (St Leonards)