Folkestone Invicta 1-0 AFC Wimbledon
A 39th minute screamer from Stuart Myall gave Folkestone Invicta a
famous victory over well-supported AFC Wimbledon in front of a season’s best 1048 crowd at the Buzzlines Stadium on Saturday afternoon to make it two consecutive 1-0 home wins in 2006.
There was a real big match atmosphere which the Dons bring to the party as Invicta rose to the occasion to record their first Saturday league win of the season on the day manager Neil Cugley unveiled his new management structure of former Gillingham pair Mark Saunders (player-coach) and Mark Patterson (assistant-manager) and former Dover Athletic manager Richard Langley (chief scout), writes Richard Murrill.
AFC Wimbledon have the best defensive record in the Ryman Premier League so far this season, but this was an afternoon when Invicta goalkeeper Tony Kessell and central defensive trio of captain Adam Flanagan, birthday boy John Guest and the consistent Steve Norman again took the plaudits for some typically resolute defending.
And Myall put the icing on the cake of a trademark hard-working Invicta team performance by picking his spot and sending a swerving shot flying into the far corner of the net from the right hand side of the box for what turned out to be the only goal of the game. The ball had broken for the 31-year-old midfielder after a Martin Chandler shot had been blocked following a run by striker Paul Jones.
The Dons went into the game as the form side in the division but were without star striker Richard Butler who broke a hand in their 3-0 win away to Staines on Bank Holiday Monday and spent the afternoon confined to the substitutes’ bench.
Invicta settled into the game well, but it was the visitors who had the majority of the first half chances and Kessell made an acrobatic early save with his feet after eight minutes to deny Shane Smeltz when Dave Sargent sent the ball in from the left after Rob Ursell had spread the play out wide.
Mark Peters came in for crowd favourite Butler in the Wimbledon attack but endured a frustrating afternoon and chose to try and chip Kessell when Wayne Finnie played him through to create a chance down the right hand side of the box after 21 minutes.
Ursell then volleyed over two minutes later following Barry Moore’s corner on the right.
Centre half Guest made an immaculate tackle on his 24th birthday to dispossess Peters after 26 minutes in a Wimbledon attack involving midfielders Moore and Ursell.
Defensive partner Norman then made a saving tackle on Smeltz close to goal following a free kick on the right after 34 minutes.
Invicta had struggled to create any clear chances during the first half, but Myall’s sweet strike was to prove decisive.
Guest blocked at the expense of a corner when Dwayne Plummer ran at the Invicta defence down the right hand side after 53 minutes and Moore then shot just wide from the right two minutes later.
Moore was arguably Wimbledon’s best player on the day and forced a corner from Kessell with a low shot when he took the ball into the box down the right hand side on the hour mark.
Kessell was at his best to make a double save after 64 minutes first from Moore and then from Smeltz’s rebound to concede another corner when Ursell played the ball through.
At the other end, Wimbledon goalkeeper Andy Little touched Walid Matata’s 69th minute shot onto the far post when the tireless James Everitt sent over a dangerous cross from the right after Chandler had played the ball out wide to him.
Jones shot over the crossbar from outside the penalty area two minutes later when Norman won the ball with a great tackle on the half way line.
But Invicta still had more defending to do as Peters fired wide after 78 minutes when Sargent’s big ball out of defence fell to him and Guest blocked substitute Nas Richardson’s shot after 81 minutes.
Wimbledon pushed centre half Steve Butler up to centre forward for the closing stages but the captain shot horribly wide when the ball fell invitingly to him on the edge of the box after 82 minutes.
Invicta had half chances to finish off their opponents as Jones shot high and wide across goal following a crossfield ball from Myall after 85 minutes and Myall himself did not make enough of his chance when a Flanagan ball played him through down the right hand side of the box after 87 minutes.
In between those two chances, Invicta gave a first substitutes’ appearance to recent signing Chris Wright in attack.
A Richardson shot then ran just in front of Sargent at the far post in the 90th minute as Invicta held out for a memorable win.
Wimbledon’s Smeltz was the game’s only booking for a late challenge on Chandler after 59 minutes.
Folkestone Invicta: Kessell, Watson, Lamb, Flanagan, Guest, J.Everitt, Chandler, Myall, Matata (Wright 86), Jones, Norman. Subs: Neilson, Playford, Fraser, Mann
AFC Wimbledon: Little, Finnie, Sargent, Gell, S. Butler, Howard, Ursell (Richardson 71), Moore, Peters (Sobihy 83), Smeltz, Plummer. Subs: R. Butler, Farr, Lennie.