Bracknell Town 4-1 Folkestone Invicta - You don't become a bad team overnight. It's an off-day but it can't happen again, insists Folkestone Invicta assistant manager Roland Edge

Tuesday 15th January 2019
Bracknell Town 4 – 1 Folkestone Invicta
Location Larges Lane, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 9AN
Kickoff 15/01/2019 19:45

Velocity Trophy Quarter-Final
Tuesday 15 January 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Larges Lane

FOLKESTONE INVICTA assistant manager Roland Edge insists his players have not become a bad team overnight after being slaughtered by ten-man Bracknell Town in the Velocity Trophy.

Geoff Warner’s side will travel to Bostik Premier Division outfit AFC Hornchurch in the Semi-Finals of the Isthmian League Cup competition after the Urchins thrashed Whitstable Town by the same scoreline in Essex tonight.

Bracknell Town have lost just once on the 3G playing surface at Larges Lane and that was a 2-0 defeat to Reading in the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup on 27 November 2018 – losing just once in 17 home games.

The Robins went into this Quarter-Final in second-place in the Bostik South Central Division with 42 points from 21 games and five points adrift of leaders Hayes & Yeading United.

Neil Cugley’s Folkestone Invicta, meanwhile, were in the top six in the Bostik Premier Division table with 39 points from 25 league games and were unbeaten in six games and have kept five clean sheets during that period.

But they were torn apart by a brilliant Bracknell Town performance against a Folkestone Invicta side that lacked desire.

Bracknell Town were 3-0 in front by the time they lost centre-half Joe Gater to a red-card, as impressive midfielder Ashleigh Artwell’s brace was sandwiched between an own-goal from Folkestone centre-half Finn O’Mara.

Bracknell Town striker Joseph Grant poked in his 15th goal of the season to give the home side a four-goal lead early in the second half, before Folkestone Invicta pulled a goal back through a glancing header from striker Johan Ter Horst, scoring his ninth goal of the season in the process.

“It’s one of those things you know when you enter the cup and you have a little go and hope to get good things out of it and up until today we have. Sometimes the cup games come at a time where you could really do without them and today was one of those,” said Edge.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Bracknell because I thought they moved the ball excellently at times, supported each other and they had some exceptional performances but realistically after Saturday and the games that have come and the performances that we’ve put on really we could’ve done with a rest.

“If it was an opportunity to have a training week we probably would’ve said ‘look boys, take it easy because you’ve played a lot of games, you’ve got niggles here and there’ and it just ended up like that.

“I don’t want to take anything away from them because they were by far the better side today and they deserve to go on and I hope they do well.

“You could see they’re well drilled, they know what they are doing, they move the ball nice and quickly.  You don’t want to make excuses, they were by far the better side today.

“We just didn’t really have any energy today if I’m honest.  Too many people were carrying knocks, not enough options to try to freshen it up. It wasn’t really a true reflection on what we can do.”

Cugley kept faith with the same starting eleven that thrashed AFC Hornchurch 5-0 at Cheriton Road at the weekend, which puts them level on points with the side that occupy the final play-off berth, Bognor Regis Town.

Bracknell Town set the tone by creating their first opening after only 89 seconds.

The outstanding Artwell raced to the by-line before hanging over a cross for the stretching Grant to loop the ball up for visiting keeper Tim Roberts to comfortably pluck the ball out of the air.

Folkestone Invicta were forced to go three-man (Nathaniel Blanks, Callum Davies and O’Mara) at the back after they lost their right-back Josh Vincent to a rolled ankle.

Edge said:  “Well, like these 3G’s everyone loves them and hates them, it’s like marmite. People talk about turning their ankles and knees and I think he just rolled his ankle to be honest. We took him off, there’s no swelling at the minute. Hopefully it’s not too severe because he’s been excellent recently.”

Folkestone Invicta created their only chance of the first half just three minutes before Vincent’s departure when Scott Heard drilled a low right-footed free-kick flashing just past the foot of the left-hand post from 30-yards.

“You’re saying a chance from 30-yards, it’s quite speculative, you’re just trying to test the keeper really. He hit it quite well and it just went wide,” said Edge.

Bracknell Town’s left-back Joel Jacobs hit a long ball out of defence for striker Grant to run the channel and after shrugging past Davies, he cut inside and curled his shot towards the top far corner from 18-yards, forcing Roberts to dive to his left to grab hold of the ball.

“Tim had to make a few saves today, I’d agree with that really,” said Edge.

“If I’m honest, the margin should’ve been bigger for them. They did create good chances, carved us open with ease at times in the first half. Tim always does a good job in between the sticks and made a good save.”

Bracknell’s centre-half Matthew Day smashed some long balls forward but his long ball in the 16th minute was sublimely controlled by Artwell on the right and his intended cross towards the far post for an unmarked Grant was cut out by O’Mara, the former Gillingham man sniffing out the danger by heading the ball over his own crossbar.

Bracknell Town deservedly opened the scoring with 18 minutes and 48 seconds on the clock.

Holding midfielder Harrison Bayley fed the ball into the feet of James Cowan (who was making his debut following his loan move from Oxford United) and he pushed the ball on for Artwell to run past two Folkestone players and drilled his low shot across Roberts to find the bottom far corner from 16-yards.

Edge said: “That was probably the worst part of today, the seven (Artwell) was a good player, I agree with that but he’s scored two goals today by running through the centre of our defence, which I’m not blaming the defence for it but to run through the middle of any team is not good collectively midfield and defence, it should never happen really.”

Folkestone Invicta wide-man Alfie Paxman released Ter Horst down the line and the former Hull City striker cut inside but his poor shot sailed over the crossbar.

Folkestone Invicta gifted Bracknell Town their second goal when it arrived with 26 minutes and 38 seconds on the clock.

Bracknell’s fantastic football had Folkestone Invicta struggling and Artwell played in James McClurg to the by-line and he drilled in a lovely low cross which was intended for 22-goal striker Liam Ferdinand, but the ball bounced off O’Mara and nestled into the bottom far corner.

“Every defenders nightmare to be honest with you,” admitted Edge, a retired full-back.

“They’ve worked it well to get in to a good crossing position and the lad has drilled it across the six-yard box and it hits Finn’s shin and just ricochet into the goal.

“Every defender hates that ball! It either goes out of the stand and you look like a legend like Bobby Moore or it goes in your goal and this time it goes in your goal – but they deserved it.”

Folkestone Invicta’s players simply failed to turn up, a fact the Edge acknowledged.

“Are we going to turn up? I just think we didn’t get going. They were pulling us apart everywhere with the diamond in midfield. We had to try to stop that so we allocated people specific jobs to do, which they didn’t necessarily do and I just thought they dominated the first half to be honest.”

Neither Nathaniel Blanks or Davies couldn’t live with the outstanding Artwell and his low cross from the right set up Ferdinand at the near post and his flicked shot was destined for the bottom right-hand corner, only for Roberts to dive to his left to tip the ball around the post.

“Tim was very busy today,” admitted Edge.

“When people say ‘4-1, busy? He must’ve let them all in?!’ but they tested him in every way today and Tim was equal to most of it. Some of them were unstoppable when Artwell’s striking the ball six-yards out, it’s very hard for him to save it!”

Bracknell Town raced into a three-goal lead with 34 minutes and 37 seconds on the clock.

McClurg was just inside his own half when he hit a long ball towards Grant inside the Folkestone box.  A poor headed clearance from Davies resulting in Artwell bring the ball down under control by his chest before smacking his volley past Roberts from 10-yards.

“Yet again, it was a little bit calamitous at times,” admitted Edge.

“No one knew who they were picking up, what to do. It was like a third-man run. The centre-forward not marked up, Artwell’s burst through with power and pace and a bit of composure to finish.”

Too many Folkestone players failed to turn up tonight.

“You’re not going to throw blame at an individual. It’s like you defend as a team.  To go through the middle, it’s not just one person making the mistake. Someone’s got to be there with you in defence.  When everyone gets tight, the next man needs to support you when you get beat and that didn’t really happen across the park.”

Folkestone Invicta were given a lifeline by referee Grzegorz Kornasiewicz, who pulled out a red-card from his pocket to send Bracknell Town centre-half Gater off after he tripped Ade Yusuff some 30-yards from goal in the 39th minute.

“I thought that was soft if I’m honest,” admitted Edge.

“I don’t think he deserved to go for that. I could see why it could be a yellow, he’s made a mistake, he didn’t quite put enough power on the pass and then tried to step across and he caught Ade.  I thought it was a free-kick and a yellow and he gets sent-off, which I thought was harsh but from a managerial perspective you think that might be the opening to get us into a game.”

But Folkestone Invicta failed to make the numerical advantage count and Bracknell Town went in at the break with another chance to score.

Ferdinand played a one-two with Grant and cracked a right-footed drive just over the crossbar from 20-yards.

Cugley and Edge had to do some soul-searching with their struggling players during the half-time interval as their first half showing was unacceptable!

“I can’t really go into too much detail, it wasn’t the nicest of half-times pretty much,” said Edge.

“We knew they were tired but you’ve got to try to inspire them or spark them into life.  We gave them the normal ‘come on lads, you’ve got to turn up, you’ve just have got to do the basics, our shape wasn’t good today, our passing wasn’t good. You’ve got a man to mark, deal with it,’ normal stuff really to get them going and that’s pretty much all you can do when you’re looking round the changing room and they’re looking at you in the eyes and they understand but they just didn’t have the legs today.”

Folkestone Invicta were to be denied a goal nine minutes into the second half.

Substitute Sam Hasler hit a long diagonal 60-yard pass out of defence which released Paxman down the right and after beating his man, right-back David Hancock, he cut into the box and his dinked shot was saved by the advancing keeper Chris Grace.

“Alfie’s been brilliant, I’ve got to say that. He’s playing that role exceptionally well recently,” praised Edge.

“The pass was great. He took it well, beat the guy, cut inside. In hindsight now he wishes he probably struck it rather than try the little delicate lob but the keeper’s made himself big and made a good save. Sometimes you’ve got to give them credit.”

Bracknell Town raced into a 4-0 lead with 10 minutes and 31 seconds on the clock.

Cowan put in a cross from the left, which was superbly brought down inside the box by Artwell and he put it on a plate for Grant to poke his shot past the grounded Roberts from eight-yards.

“That goal out of all of them was actually the most disappointing because it was very unlike Folkestone,” said Edge.

“I think it was a little bit of a fight, a little bit of a scrap before it actually went out wide and I think we had three opportunities to win an individual battle and we lost all three, which isn’t really how we work.  It went out, a little bit of quality came in and Tim had no chance to be honest.”

Yusuff suffered a frustrating night in Berkshire.  O’Mara reached the by-line and hung over a deep cross for the Folkestone striker, who steered his free-header past the near post.

Folkestone Invicta went close halfway through the second half when Hasler’s free-kick from just outside the box on the left-hand side was cleared out to Paxman, who hooked his left-footed volley flashing through a crowd of players and past the far post from 25-yards.

Sublime silky skills from Ferdinand saw him leave three Folkestone players in a knot some 30-yards from goal before he played the ball on the outside to an unmarked Grant, but he lacked composure inside the box and his shot rolled into Roberts hands for a comfortable pick-up with 20 long painful minutes remaining.

To his credit, O’Mara, playing on the right of a three-man defence, kept plugging away though and set up Folkestone Invicta’s consolation goal with 30 minutes and 45 seconds on the clock.

Paxman worked the right channel and cut the ball back to Heard, who played the ball out to O’Mara out on the right touch-line and he whipped in a great cross for Ter Horst to find a pocket of space at the near post to flick his glancing header from 15-yards out into the top far corner of the net.

“A real good header, that’s the Johan of old. The balls come in the box, instinctive, gets across, just gets the slightest of glances and it’s in the far corner, great finish,” said Edge.

“We didn’t make enough of an numerical advantage.  They were passing us all over the park. I just didn’t think we made the pitch big enough when we went against 10. We didn’t ask too many questions. We forced the passes rather than being patient.  That’s the bad thing. We didn’t create enough good opportunities.”

Roberts prevented further embarrassment when he made himself big to narrow the angle at his near post to prevent Artwell firing in his hat-trick from a tight angle after he easily ran past Ethan Madden after he was played in by Bracknell sub striker Sean Moore.

Folkestone Invicta created the last chance of a miserable night when Heard played the ball out to Yusuff, who cut into the box and delivered a cross for Paxman to get the final touch to flick his shot looping over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.

This was Folkestone Invicta’s 34th competitive game of the season and Edge blamed fatigue for their Cup exit.

“You don’t become a bad team overnight. I think fatigue definitely showed tonight.

“Scott Heard, he normally catches a hare at a greyhound track, even he looked a little bit leggy. We’ve got people carrying knocks who are honest lads, get taped up and go out there and give it their all but it takes its toll doesn’t it sometimes on performance, sharpness and stuff like that. It’s just one of those days.

“Micheal Everitt has been fantastic all year, tired. You’ve got Scott Heard just come back from a cruciate repair. Sam Hasler, he’s got injury problems and we had to play him more than we wanted him to.  Phil Starkey through work responsibilities couldn’t get here. (Ira Jackson was cup-tied). The people we had today had to play, simple as that.”

“Ideally you have 18 or 19 and five of them get a game today it may have been a totally different outcome.

Folkestone Invicta travel to eleventh-placed Brightlingsea Regent in the Bostik Premier Division on Saturday and Edge demands a positive reaction from his team.

Edge said: “Despite the fact we weren’t at the races and looked a little bit leggy, we haven’t got anyone in our team that throws the towel in. They’re all good lads and they all take it personally so you’ve got to kind of go in and speak to them and say it’s an off-day but it can’t happen again! Saturday has to be put right! 

“They look at you in the eye, they all nod at you and you leave that dressing room disappointed today but in faith that hopefully they’ll bounce back.”

Bracknell Town: Chris Grace, David Hancock, Joel Jacobs, Harrison Bayley, Matthew Day (Ryan Parsons 46), Joe Gater, Ashleigh Artwell, James McClurg, Joseph Grant (Sean Moore 79), Liam Ferdinand, James Cowan (Jonathan Hathaway 86).
Subs: Gavin James, Sebastian Bowerman

Goals: Ashleigh Artwell 19, 32, Finn O’Mara 27 (own goal), Joseph Grant 56

Sent Off:  Joe Garter 39

Folkestone Invicta: Tim Roberts, Josh Vincent (Sam Hasler 14), Nathaniel Blanks, Micheal Everitt, Finn O’Mara, Alfie Paxman, Scott Heard, Ade Yusuff, Johan Ter Horst, Ian Draycott (Ethan Madden 75).
Subs: Matthew Newman, Nicholas Shaw

Goal: Johan Ter Horst 76

Booked: Sam Hasler 45

Attendance: 215
Referee: Mr Grzegorz Kornasiewicz (Oxford)
Assistants: Mr Kevin Dudley (Oxford) & Mr Daniel Jacobs (Oxford)