Staines Town 4-4 Folkestone Invicta - Going in to National League South will probably put us in an uncomfortable financial situation, says Folkestone Invicta assistant Roland Edge

Thursday 12th April 2018
Staines Town 4 – 4 Folkestone Invicta
Location Wheatsheaf Park, Wheatsheaf Lane, Staines, Middlesex TW18 2PD
Kickoff 12/04/2018 19:45

Bostik Premier Division
Thursday 12 April 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Wheatsheaf Park

FOLKESTONE INVICTA assistant manager Roland Edge says promotion into the Vanarama National League South for the first time would bring an uncomfortable financial situation for the club.

Neil Cugley’s men are seen as the underdogs in this exciting Bostik Premier Division promotion race and they played their part in a brilliant 4-4 draw at fellow promotion chasing side Staines Town.

Folkestone Invicta were miles better than Staines Town, who scored four goals from their six attempts at goal.

Folkestone Invicta attacker Johan Ter Horst, 23, opened the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes but Staines Town equalised through a controversial goal from Elliot Buchanan, 28, who appeared to be yards offside.

Ter Horst finished off a fine three-man move to give Folkestone the lead for a second time before Buchanan equalised again going into the break.

Folkestone holding midfielder Ronnie Dolan drilled a shot into top bins early in the second half to give Cugley’s side the lead that they deserved.

Mohamed Bettamer scored his 25th goal of the season to bring Johnson Hippolyte’s men level for a third time, before former Margate striker Buchanan tapped in his hat-trick to give the home side the lead for the first time with eight minutes left.

Folkestone Invicta scored a last-gasp equaliser when Ter Horst scored his hat-trick to score his 17th goal of the season (two of them for National League side Maidstone United)

“I think on reflection on the game, on the whole, we actually played well,” said Edge after his club extended their unbeaten run to 12 games.

“As we’ve just gone through in the changing room, I think we’ve defended well this year and had a good unit and I think today we allowed them, I’d say, three goals a little bit too easily.

“I think the first one’s offside if I’m completely honest which got them back into the game because they didn’t kick-start at all and then other than that the other three goals our defence is more than capable of shutting them out on most days.  They still had to put it in the net and they did so that’s football.

“You’ve got the positives, not only created four clear-cuts, I think we created nine or 10 today.

“It was nice to see Johan Ter Horst punish them and he looked really sharp today and Ade (Yusuff) is always a handful.  We created a lot and that’s the frustrating thing of the game.

“They needed the points and they went for it and fortunately at the end we got a point.”

Billericay Town are top of the pile on 85 points with six games remaining with a £25,000 per week playing budget.

The four play-off sides are currently Dulwich Hamlet (82 points with five games remaining); Folkestone Invicta (81 points with four remaining); Hendon (75 points with four remaining) and Margate (75 points with three remaining).

Waiting to pounce are Leiston (72 points, with four remaining); Leatherhead (71 points with six remaining) and Staines Town (70 points with five remaining).

Folkestone Invicta opened the scoring with only nine minutes and eight seconds on the clock following the second of their 11 corners.

Sam Hasler played in a low delivery from the right towards the corner of the six-yard box at the near post and Ter Horst’s flicked shot along the deck nestled into the bottom far corner.

“Jo probably doesn’t feel he hasn’t done himself that much justice in front of goal over the last couple of games. He’s worked tirelessly,” said Edge.

“Hasler’s whipped a lovely ball in, Jo’s always alert in the box. He’s got across the front of them and it’s a tidy finish.”

However, Staines Town grabbed an equaliser with 12 minutes and 13 seconds on the clock.

Buchanan slid a low pass into Bettamer’s feet and Buchanan appeared to be yards offside for the return pass - but the flag stayed down and the striker completed a clinical right-footed finish through Tim Roberts’ legs and into the back of the net from 15-yards.

Edge said: “I thought he finished it well but I think it was clear for just about anyone from any side or wherever you were standing in the terrace that he was offside!

“You kind of had that argument because it’s an easy one, despite the fact that it shouldn’t stand!  Sometimes you prefer your defence just to be safe, drop, be deep and try and make them break through you but I think in all honesty he was clearly offside but the linesman didn’t.”

Hasler pinged a sublime diagonal pass to Ade Yusuff on the right, he played the ball inside to Ter Horst, who teed up Yusuff but the Folkestone striker drilled his right-footed shot just past the foot of the right-hand post from 17-yards.

Edge said: “Ade was a thorn in their side for the majority of the game.  He just slid a little bit outside him as he struck it.  I think the ball just rolled away from him a little bit. It was a lovely strike. It zipped across and I think the keeper was beat.”

Folkestone Invicta took the lead for the second time, courtesy of a good move and sublime finish, the goal timed at 21 minutes and 40 seconds.

Dolan played a precise ball out of defence on the counter-attack up to Kieron McCann in midfield and he split the Staines defence to put Ter Horst through on goal in the middle of the pitch and the former Hull City man bent his right-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner from 18-yards.

Edge said: “Kieron’s played a lovely outside of the foot and then the rest, it was a great counter-attack, brilliant.  Actually I said to Cugs it was the best goal we’ve scored all year, from end-to-end, nice and sharp and Yo got the goal at the end and finished it, a really good goal.”

Staines keeper Conor Hudnott held Hasler’s right-footed drive from 25-yards low to his left before McCann drove at the home side’s defence and flashed his right-footed drive just past the post from 22-yards as Folkestone played some lovely football on a pristine playing surface.

Ian Draycott missed a sitter for Folkestone on the half-hour mark when keeper Hudnott’s clearance fell to Draycott some 35-yards out and his first time left-footed drive from 35-yards flashed past the right-hand post of an open goal.

Edge said: “It’s funny when you have expectations.  Draycott is one of the best finishers in the league and when it normally falls to him like that he’s normally the one person you want it to full to. Unfortunately for him today he’s had a go and it’s just drifted wide but by his own standards he was disappointed by that.”

Staines Town maintained their clinical qualities by equalising for a second time with 35 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock.

Poor defending from Folkestone right-back Jerald Aboagye gifted Staines the chance as winger Max Worsfold played the ball into left-back Josh Webb and he threaded the ball through to Buchanan, who took a touch before rolling the ball across keeper Roberts to find the bottom far corner from a tight angle at the near post.

“Football can be cruel at times,” admitted Edge.

“Jerald went down the side, he had a good tussle with Worsfold, I think it was a good contest.  He managed to get the better of him and he was right by the touchline and rather than just doing the basic thing of trying to play it down the line and if it goes into Row Z it goes in Row Z, no problem, but he kind of shanked it a little bit and their lad played it into their forward and their forwards were bright, I’ve got to give him that and he’s pinned someone on the six-yard, swivelled, he didn’t get a good connection but from that distance it’s very difficult for a keeper to adjust and that’s how they got their goal.”

Folkestone Invicta wasted another glorious chance to increase their lead on the stroke of half-time.

Yusuff released Aboagye on the overlap down the right and he centred low for Draycott to place his first time shot agonisingly past the foot of the near-post from eight-yards out.

“Jerald doesn’t only stay back and defend, he’s a really good option on the overlap,” said Edge. 

“I thought they did that really well in the first half, he cut a lovely ball in but they’re tough. I think it was a little bit too far in front of Dracys to be able to wrap his foot around it but to change the angle of it. He was more able just to get his foot on it and it wasn’t enough to steer it into the goal.”

Edge added: “At half-time it was the same as you can boys.  I thought we dominated midfield, we did all of the football in the game creating all of the chances in the game but they managed to take all of the chances that they got.”

Folkestone Invicta set the tone by creating their opening second half chance after only 51 seconds.

Yusuff, who was working the channel, floated in a cross from the right and Ter Horst teed up Dolan, whose low right-footed drive from 22-yards forced Hudnott, 21 and on loan from Queens Park Rangers, to dive to his right to tip the ball around the post for a corner.

Edge said: “Dolan’s got a great strike, most people come and watch us and they talk about Hasler has a great strike, which he has.  When it comes to Ronnie from 20-25 yards and he pulls the trigger, the keeper’s got a lot to think about and I think he struck it nice and it got blocked and ricochet along the floor and the keeper’s made a fantastic save down to his right.”

Folkestone Invicta took six minutes and 34 seconds to take the lead for a third time and you won’t see too many goals than this one.

McCann clipped the ball over the top of struggling defender Ben Martin to release Ter Horst, who cut into the penalty area before cutting the ball back for Dolan to drill a right-footed shot into the top right-hand corner from 25-yards.

“Yet again Johan’s done brilliantly.  He bust behind the back, unselfishly pulled it back and Kieron’s pulled it back to Ronnie and Ronnie’s just struck it lovely. The keeper’s stand no chance and it’s in the top corner,” said Edge.

Folkestone gave the ball away within their defensive third though Hasler and this gave Buchanan a chance, which he dragged past the far post when he only had Roberts to beat in the 59th minute.

Edge said: “That was like a Christmas present to be honest and since Hasler’s came to us from (Bostik South side) Herne Bay, he’s just got better and better and better. He doesn’t really make those bad decisions but he did tonight and luckily that was one they didn’t punish us for.”

Folkestone Invicta were a threat with the pace from Ter Horst and Yusuff and they really should have been two goals in front when Aboagye released Ter Horst down the right and he played the ball inside to Draycott, who cut inside and flashed his shot across goal and past the far post from 15-yards.

Edge said:  “You just watched the Masters at golf and Rory McIlroy’s putting was an inch out and Dracys finishing was about an inch out today. It’s just one of those things.  I thought he struck the ball nicely and just pulled them a little bit wide for his normal high standards.”

But Folkestone’s defence went missing when Staines Town levelled for a third time with 25 minutes and 55 seconds on the clock.

Midfielder Sam Hatton’s 30-yard diagonal pass found Bettamer in a pocket of space just outside the box and he cut onto his left-foot before drilling his shot into the bottom near corner from 15-yards.

“That was a really disappointing goal really because I don’t think they did too much.  They played space and the guy ran willingly to get there,” said Edge.

“Callum Davies is an exceptional defender, he’s better than the level he’s at and he knows himself the guy’s completely left-footed and he’s allowed him to cut in on his left foot and he’s hit it hard from a short distance. Tim’s got a hand to it but there’s no way he’s going to be able to push it wide and a little bit of a disappointing goal that one.”

Ter Horst’s cross from the right was met by McCann’s header, which sailed into Hudnott’s hands before Roberts made a comfortable catch at the other end.

Hatton swung a free-kick into the Folkestone box and Buchanan’s back-header from 10-yards was straight at Roberts, who made a routine catch.

Aboagye progressed over the halfway line to play the ball inside to Hasler, who flashed a left-footed drive past the right-hand post from 35-yards, as Folkestone bossed the middle of the park.

It was almost inevitable that Staines Town would grab the lead for the first time, their fourth goal coming with 36 minutes and 33 seconds on the clock.

Draycott failed to keep the ball in play down the touch-line and neither he or Aboagye could stop Worsfold racing down the wing, cut into the box and slide a ball across the face of goal for Buchanan to tap in his rebound from four-yards to score his hat-trick.

Edge said: “Yet again it was a strange one.  We tried to fizz a ball out to Draycott, who made a run inside and the balls run out of play but we didn’t pass it very well for those couple of minutes.  They got a throw-in. I don’t think they did too much, there was a couple of lunges to try to cut the ball out. the lad gets to the by-line and the guy on the wing is probably an Olympic sprinter because Nat Blanks is quick and he’s pulled a nice ball across and the lad made a run in.  I think Blanksey feels he got a little bit of a niggle but there’s not a ref on the planet that’s going to give it and he taps it into an empty net.”

Folkestone Invicta kept plugging away and kept knocking on the door as time ticked on.

Yusuff’s turn set-up a chance for Draycott, whose low left-footed drive from 25-yards brought a comfortable low save from Hudnott.

But Staines’ hearts were broken when Folkestone claimed a point – when it should have been all three – three minutes and 11 seconds into time added on.

Joe Taylor, who entered the field with 41:54 on the clock, made an instant impact by starting the move and it finished with Yusuff getting in behind on the right-hand side and putting in a lovely low cross across the face of goal for Ter Horst to tap in from a couple of yards out.

“I thought we were in a bit of trouble and we had to re-jig it, a bit like they really went for it.  They knew a point wasn’t really what they were after, they needed three especially with today’s results.

“We’re lucky enough to have Joe Taylor on the bench and luckily for us because Joe went on there with a professional head, he didn’t sulk because he can feel a little bit unlucky to be left out. 

“He went out there, he kept a ball in play that should’ve gone out, hooked it in, linked up play, next thing you know Ade’s got on the ball, drove it across and Jo’s tapped it in for a hat-trick.

“I know Joe’s been out there for only three minutes but he made a massive impact and that’s the beauty of Folkestone, people come in, people go out but we’ve got a real team ethos this year and today has helped to get a point.”

Yusuff almost won it for Invicta but he drove his shot just past the foot of the near post at the death.

Reflecting on this eight-goal thriller, Edge said: “It doesn’t really get much better than that does it? 

“If you’re a Staines fan watching that you’re thinking ‘we needed three points’, they were lucky to get one out of it. Our fans have come up and think we should’ve scored 25 like they always do but they’ll be happy because the cherry on the top was the draw but I don’t think it would be a happy coach if we left with nothing.

“If you were a neutral who came here today you’d think there’s plenty of goals in this league. The league needs it, it needs a boost in attendances to increase the quality.”

Folkestone Invicta travel to Dorking Wanderers on Saturday and Thurrock next Tuesday, before hosting Dulwich Hamlet to Cheriton Road on 21 April and travelling to Billericay Town on the final day of the season.

Cugley also takes his side to Maidstone United to contest the Kent Reliance Senior Cup Final on 24 April.

This Folkestone side is more than capable of upsetting the odds and winning promotion.

Edge said: “Do you know what, we have to keep our heads in gear, we’ve got a job to do. We’ve been cast as minnows all season long.  I think our team has proven more than capable of doing something in this league so now we’ve got to maintain that until the very, very end and see what happens.

“One thing I’ve learnt from this league is you can’t take anything for granted.  Thurrock is going to be a handful, they were good at our place. Dorking are honest hardworking, got bits of class along the 11 and Billericay are self-explanatory and Dulwich self-explanatory.”

When asked what promotion to the second-tier of non-league football would mean to the club, Edge replied: “Longer journey’s pretty much!  I don’t know! It will be unknown territory.  Let’s not fool ourselves, the club runs itself on a day-to-day basis. We’re above water but if we’re completely honest the budget that we have and work on, it’s fantastic to have the players that we’ve got on that kind of budget, it says a lot about them but really on the financial side of things, we’re suited for the (Bostik) South below us.

“I’m not pleading poverty or anything like that really but that area (Bostik South) is pretty much our limit going into the (National League) South will probably put us in a little bit of an uncomfortable situation, I would’ve thought.

“But we’ve got a team that I think could handle it.  We’ve got players in that dressing room that are above this level, ok.  They’re with us for whatever reason and if we actually went in to that league they’ll probably up their game again and we’ll see a little bit more from them so it doesn’t worry us in that side just maybe the financial.”

Staines Town: Conor Hudnott, Josh Webb, Tyrell Miller-Rodney, Bayley Brown (Leon Solomon 46), Ben Martin (Tommy Brewer 76), Joash Nembhard, Mohamed Battamer, Wadah Ahmidi (Jonathan Hippolyte 46), Elliot Buchanan, Sam Hatton, Max Worsfold.
Subs: Kamal McEwan, Elliot Baptiste

Goals: Elliot Buchanan 13, 36, 82, Mohamed Bettamer 71

Booked: Wadah Ahmidi 8

Folkestone Invicta: Tim Roberts, Jerald Aboagye, Nathaniel Blanks, Ronnie Dolan (Joe Taylor 87), Callum Davies, Josh Vincent, Johan Ter Horst, Sam Hasler, Ade Yusuff, Ian Dracott, Kieron McCann.
Subs: Matthew Newman, Jordan Wright, Ethan Madden, Joseph Coleman

Goals: Johan Ter Horst 10, 22, 90, Ronnie Dolan 53

Attendance: 247
Referee: Mr Tim Donnellan (Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire)
Assistants: Mr Conor Griffin (Hanwell, London W7) & Mr Joseph Casey (Edgware, Middlesex)

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