Folkestone Invicta 0 Braintree Town 0
Folkestone Invicta picked up a creditable point on Saturday when they held league leaders Braintree Town to a goalless draw on a bitterly cold afternoon at the Buzzlines Stadium, writes Richard Murrill.
Braintree manager George Borg had brought his side to Folkestone looking for all three points as they close in on the Ryman Premier League title, but Invicta gave as good as they got and proved to be stubborn opponents.
Braintree made the early running as James Hawes put Jermaine Hunter clean through after 13 minutes, but goalkeeper Tony Kessell stood firm to make an important early save.
At the other end, Mark Saunders headed the ball across goal and Matt Carruthers hooked the ball over six minutes later as the snow began to fall.
Hawes then skimmed the Invicta crossbar when he let fly from 30 yards on the half hour mark.
Having weathered the early storm, Invicta enjoyed a good spell of their own as half time approached.
A Kevin Watson free kick was nodded on by captain Adam Flanagan after 34 minutes but goalkeeper Danny Guy came out to claim the ball and Guy made a double save to deny striker Carruthers two minutes later.
And right on half time, Braintree’s Billy Burgess got across to block when Carruthers nodded the ball on for Walid Matata.
There were chances at both ends in the opening minutes of the second half as Steve Norman drilled in a low ball from the left for Invicta and Kessell saved with his feet from Alex Revell after a ball from substitute Robbie Martin.
Substitute Joe Neilson replaced the limping Matata but Invicta were themselves unable to improve on a recent drought of just one goal in their last five matches, although on this occasion the result had few home supporters complaining.
Braintree substitute Louis Riddle almost made an instant impact when he volleyed at Kessell on the hour, while at the other end goalkeeper Guy got in just before Saunders when Flanagan played the ball in from the left after 63 minutes.
Braintree’s Hunter headed wide from Martin’s free kick on the right after 66 minutes following a foul by Stuart Myall on Hawes.
Invicta were close after 77 minutes when Martin Chandler played the ball to Norman on the left and the latter sent in a dangerous low ball into the middle and Lee Shearer’s shot was blocked at the far post.
Braintree captain Revell headed against the Invicta crossbar following a corner from the left after 80 minutes.
Folkestone Invicta: Kessell, Watson, Corneille, Flanagan, Shearer, Saunders, Chandler (J. Everitt 81), Myall, Matata (Neilson 58), Carruthers, Norman. Subs: Fraser, M. Everitt, Mann.
Braintree Town: Guy, Burgess, Jones, Adedeji, Lorraine, Parmenter (Martin 45), Hawes, Porter, Ofori (Riddle 57), Revell, Hunter (Griffiths 79). Subs: Joseph, Quinton.