Thursday 01st September 2005

Folkestone draw fourth successive league game

Stamford AFC 0-0 Folkestone Invicta
Saturday 24 January 2004  Dr Martens League Eastern Division
by Richard Murrill

Folkestone Invicta drew for their fourth successive Dr Martens League Eastern Division game as they escaped a late scare in a goalless draw away to Stamford at the Newflame Stadium on Saturday afternoon.  

The nearest either side came to a scoring occurred during the six minutes of stoppage time added by referee Mark Lever.

First substitute Gareth Pritchard played Malcolm Ndekwe through for Stamford and the striker capitalised on an error by centre half Adam Flanagan to bear down on goal, only to go down under challenge from Tony Kessell as he went round the Invicta goalkeeper, only for the referee to wave play on as the ball fell invitingly into the path of Danny Steadman who chipped against the crossbar.

Then at the other end, substitute John Ayling’s far post flick was cleared off the line from James Dryden’s long throw in from the right hand side and centre half John Guest’s follow up was kept out by an acrobatic save from big Czech goalkeeper Ludek Michalik.

The result will only add to the debate about just how well Invicta are doing this season.

The optimists will point to the team stretching their unbeaten league run to 12 matches as they remain well on course for their target of a top seven finish will would ensure promotion should the proposed league re-structuring go through as planned.

The critics will say that Invicta have now won just three of their last ten Eastern Division matches and have not won in the last five matches since top goalscorer Allan Tait last started a game before further aggravating his hamstring injury.

The continued absence of Tait again saw Invicta playing with Dryden as a lone striker, with recent signing Peter Overton this time pushed forward in the main supporting role. Martin Chandler also came back into the starting line up in place of the suspended Tim Hambley as Invicta remain overflowing in central midfield options.

Chances were few and far between on a difficult pitch in the first half.

Wide man Kevin Ainslie’s shot from the left hand side was blocked by Mark Munday for the game’s first corner after five minutes.

Kessell got down to save from Nick Ashby when Steadman played the ball through after 22 minutes and a minute later Kessell saved from Kevin Byrne after the striker had played a one-two with Ndekwe who broke dangerously into the box down the right hand side.

For Invicta, a Dryden shot was blocked by Ainslie after Paul Lamb had sent the ball over from the left.

An Ainslie free kick came in dangerously across the Invicta goal after 49 minutes when Flanagan was adjudged to have fouled Ndekwe.

But the game was given an extra edge as referee Lever began to lose control during the second half, culminating in bookings for Invicta’s Lamb and Stamford’s Ndekwe after 67 minutes when the Invicta left back threw the ball at his opponent after the home striker had impeded him as he attempted to take a throw in.

Stamford goalkeeper Michalik got down at full stretch to keep out a Chandler shot from outside the penalty area after a run down the middle from the midfielder.

But it was the introduction of substitutes Pritchard and Ayling which added invention to either sides’ attacks after 83 minutes.

A Streadman shot flashed just wide of the Invicta goal after Ndekwe had threaded him through after 87 minutes.

And at the other end, Ayling stabbed the ball just wide whilst on the floor in a goalmouth scramble after 89 minutes.

This was the third draw in four meetings between the two clubs, with Invicta still seeking a first win over their Lincolnshire opponents. 

STAMFORD AFC: Michalik, Donald, Peaks, Ashby, Maddox, Edge, Nash, Steadman, Byrne (Pritchard 83 mins), Ndekwe, Ainslie.  Unused subs: Rhule, Green. 

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Kessell, Watkins (Everitt 45 mins), Lamb, Flanagan, Guest, Lindsey, Chandler (Ayling 83 mins), Munday, Dryden, Hogg, Overton.  Unused subs: Blackman, Dyson, Holdway.

Attendance: 203.

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