Folkestone Invicta 2-1 Faversham Town - It's a blow to our play-off hopes, admits Ray Turner

Saturday 08th March 2014

Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 8th March 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Cheriton Road

FAVERSHAM TOWN manager Ray Turner says his players must show character to keep chasing a play-off place after losing ground on Folkestone Invicta.

Folkestone Invicta leapfrogged over Hastings United into fourth-place in the Ryman League Division One South table with 60 points from 33 games, leaving Faversham Town in sixth-place with 52 points from 34 games, seven points behind Hastings.

Folkestone Invicta’s second largest crowd of the season welcomed warm and sunny skies on the Kent coast and the home side raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening fourteen minutes, courtesy of strike partners Paul Booth and Johan Ter Horst, before Faversham Town pulled a goal back five minutes before half-time through Luke Harvey’s thirteenth goal of the season.

“I think the key is the first 20 minutes,” said a disappointed Turner.

“When you’re chasing an experienced side from 2-0 down our task was made incredibly hard after that first period so disappointing in the end.

“It potentially gets a bit desperate towards the end when you’re chasing a goal and you’re trying to find ways scoring that goal.

“Obviously the big turning point was probably the save he made (from Jamie Maxted) for the potential equaliser. I felt at any point if we could have got level we could have won the game still.

“It wasn’t to be today but it’s certainly the way we started that let us down.”

Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley, meanwhile, admitted he had mixed feelings on his side’s eighteenth league win of the season.

He said: “Mixed really. I felt 2-0 we were completely in control of the game. Obviously they got a goal back. Disappointing in the end that we didn’t win by more because we kept catching them on the break and I thought we should have done better at finishing them off and then Tim Roberts has made a great save, otherwise they would have got a point so it’s not too bad.”

Both of these Kent clubs finished in the play-offs last season, but both clubs were defeated by promoted Maidstone United.

Both teams lost their last games, as Faversham Town went down to a 3-2 home defeat to Corinthian-Casuals last weekend, while league leaders Peacehaven & Telscombe maintained their title charge with a 3-0 win over Folkestone Invicta on Wednesday night.

Faversham Town created the first chance of this must-win game after only 63 seconds.

Dave Botterill played a left-footed free-kick forward from the edge of the centre circle and the ball fell nicely to Aiden Sherlock who failed to keep his right-footed shot down from 25-yards.

Folkestone Invicta’s first opening was created with three minutes and 46 seconds on the clock when Booth latched onto Micheal Everitt’s pass but visiting keeper Simon Overland gathered comfortably at his near post.

However, Folkestone Invicta took the lead inside five minutes courtesy of Booth’s 22nd goal of the season (19 for Folkestone and 3 for Maidstone United).

Bearded right-back Josh Vincent threw the ball to Micheal Everitt who was given time and space to float over a cross from the right. The Faversham defence failed to mark Booth closely and the 37-year-old striker turned to stroke his left-footed shot across Overland into the far corner from eight-yards.

“It was a good goal,” said Cugley.

“You couldn’t ask for better because there was a bit of pressure on the game because we know and I think they know it puts quite a big gap between us and them which is always good.  It was a bit of a nervy game.”

Speaking about Booth’s goalscoring haul for the season, Cugley added: “He’s done well.  He’s been a great signing for us and he’s a great lad as I’ve said before and he’s good in changing rooms and just a good pro.”

Turner added: “Just too easy! We’ve allowed Booth to dictate our defensive line. We should have been quicker from a deep cross and he certainly shouldn’t be allowed to bring the ball down when we’ve got four guys that are very good in the air and we should have been able to dealt with that cross.”

It was a disastrous start for The Lilywhites in a game that they had to win to keep their play-off hopes alive.

“These things happen early on in games sometimes,” said Turner.

“I’m not one to suddenly change things. We set the side out. I take full responsibility for the way the side’s set up and it didn’t work for the first 20-25 minutes and Folkestone managed to exploit that and they did a good job so the key is how long in the game there is and how quickly it can change.”

Folkestone Invicta were then wasteful following a Matt Newman free-kick which was headed away by Faversham central defender John Scarborough for Michael Yianni to hit a right-footed volley over.

Folkestone Invicta controversially doubled their lead in the 14th minute – although video evidence distributed by the home club after the game confirmed that the ball clearly did NOT cross the line.

James Everitt released Ter Horst, who went on a penetrating 40-yard run and after beating Matt Bourne and rounding Overland the highly-rated 18-year old steered his right-footed shot towards goal from a tight angle.

A sliding Bourne failed to make contact at the near post but video evidence proves that right-back Ashley Brown cleared the ball before it crossed the line but the highly-rated striker was awarded his 20th goal of the season.

However, the video evidence was not available before the post-match press conference.

Turner said: “I can’t see obviously from that angle but the linesman’s put his flag up quite quick so I assume it was clear cut but I can’t see from the halfway line.

“He’s made a good effort to get back on the line. I can’t see if it was over or not.”

Cugley said: “It was a great run, a great goal really.  As we all know there’s been a lot of talk about him at the moment and I think it might be difficult. He’s an eighteen-year-old lad and there’s a lot of speculation about him and it must be very strange to play with all this going on but to be fair to him he’s got a goal and he’s worked hard for us.

Cugley revealed that this could well be Ter Horst’s last game for the club after scoring 27 goals in 44 appearances (plus 14 as substitute).

“There’s loads of interest. I don’t think he’ll be here much longer. I don’t know. Maybe it will be his last game.  We’ll just see how things go but what will be.  We’re not going to stand in his way. We’ll just see what happens over the next couple of days.”

Cugley, however, declined to name the interested club.

He added: “I can’t say who it was. He’s an eighteen-year-old and he’s come out of our youth team and all of a sudden he’s playing in our first team.  Last year he’s scoring against Maidstone then he’s scored against Kingstonian then he breaks his collarbone-cheekbones and still bounces back from that.

“He deserves to go on. He’s a good player, a tremendous lad.  He’s got good parents and all this helps. He’s a credit and we only wish him the best and hopefully we can get (the move sorted) for his sake really because it does play on his mind.  Hopefully we’ll get it sorted in the next couple of days.”

Cugley revealed he has enough cover in that position by adding: “We’ll get by. We’re alright. We’ve not here to stop people (progressing).  We’ve got Michael Yianni, we’ve got Ratty (James Everitt) and we’ve got (Dane) Luchford.”

Faversham Town squandered an excellent chance to bring themselves back into the game within four minutes of Invicta’s controversial ghost goal.

Brown clipped the ball down the line where the hard working Harvey latched onto the ball but he over-hit the cross but left-back Jamie Maxted burst a gut to meet the ball to crack a left-footed drive which was tipped over the bar by Tim Roberts.

Turner added: “We had to re-think the plan. The key was making sure it didn’t get any worse and we did that.

“We went back to a slightly more familiar formation and I think from that moment onwards from about 20 minutes into half-time we were probably the stronger side but it’s not easy breaking down Folkestone, who are an experienced side, particularly in the centre back areas.”

A poor clearance out of Faversham’s defence from Scarborough went to James Everitt, who played the ball to Michael Yianni, who dragged his right-footed drive past the left-hand post.

Yianni then cracked a first time right-footed drive from 20-yards over the Faversham crossbar after he started a move that included Newman and Ter Horst.

Faversham Town were awarded a free-kick at the bottom of the right channel, which was swung in by Botterill and Roberts was alert to tip the ball over his crossbar.

But Faversham Town pulled a goal back with five minutes before half-time following a lucky break.

Brown pumped the ball forward and Folkestone central defender Liam Friend cushioned a header down and across to his defensive partner Frankie Chappell, who slipped and lost his footing, gifting possession to Botterill, who played the ball into Harvey’s path, who drilled a low right-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner from fifteen-yards.

Turner said: “It’s been difficult trying to get him back up to full fitness. He had a problem with his hamstring and one of the reasons why Jack Harris came on a short-term loan deal from Maidstone.

“When Luke gets his match fitness back he’s a handful for any central defender and these two (Brendon Cass and Harvey) are two of the best in the league and I thought he caused them problems all day and absolutely thoroughly deserved his goal.

“It was good for him to get back on the scoresheet and that’s thirteen for the season in all competitions. I’d like to see him finish with 20 goals this season.”

Turner added: “When we got the first goal if there wasn’t a half-time today we would have probably go on and win the game.”

Cugley added: “To be fair to the lad he drove it in well.  Frank’s still out from last night I think. He’s legs went. They took it well and when they got back it was a game. At that time I couldn’t see them getting back into the game.”

The Lilywhites created the last chance of the first half when Darren Marsden’s first time drive bounced into Roberts’ gloves for a comfortable save.

Both manager’s admitted their players struggled to cope in the warm conditions.

Cugley said: “I’ve just been talking to the lads. Everyone felt a bit heavier, a bit tired. It’s the first hot day that we’ve had for months and I just felt the game was a bit like that, not much pace. 

“I felt when Phil Stevenson came on for us he was one of the few that all of a sudden looked as if he had a lot of energy. I felt both teams looked a bit tired in the sense, not unfit but just the weather was a bit hotter.

“It was quite a warm day and the game never really got going. I just felt both sides looked a bit tired at the end and everyone was just trying to catch each other on the break.”

Turner added: “I think probably for the first time it might have caught the players out because they’ve not been used to those conditions for a while so it was a big change in terms of the climate and what was expected of them with the intensity of a derby.

“Obviously chasing the game as well, you’re not able to control the tempo of the game very well.

“From our point of view I would agree. I thought there were some tired legs on both sides.  They were keen to sit and hang on to their lead and did a professional job in the end on us and when you chase the game maybe at times we looked a bit desperate and lacked that little bit of quality but the chances were there to equalise.”

When asked about his thoughts at the half-time interval, Cugley said: “I just felt we could play a bit better. Even now when I look back on the game, I think our passing could have been better.

“There was a little bit of tiredness and the hot weather and whatever we didn’t get flowing football wise.

“I think we dug in. We knew it was an important game so we didn’t want to go tally-ho.  I think when Phil Stevenson came on he made a big difference.”

When asked what he said to his troops during the interval, Turner replied: “Not a great deal to be fair. I didn’t say anything! I didn’t have to! I knew the way the boys were coming in they knew the mistakes they made. I trust the character in the changing room and I felt at that stage we would go on and get something out of the game so I didn’t say anything at half-time.

“Clive (Walker, my assistant manager) pointed out a couple of things but I didn’t need to. I saw the look on their faces and they knew what the response needed to be second half. It’s about trusting your players at times and I do tryst the group to deal with certain situations.”

Faversham Town created the first chance of the second half within the opening nine minutes.

Marsden, who was playing against an old club, floated over a cross from the right towards the far post where Botterill leaped above Vincent to send a downward header into Roberts’ gloves.

However, the introduction of Phil Stevenson lifted Folkestone Invicta’s tempo and the substitute released Ter Horst down the right who whipped in a low centre towards the far post but James Everitt’s driven shot was blocked for a corner.

Folkestone went close from the resulting corner, which was taken short and Newman’s cross from the left was headed over by Chappell from inside a crowded six-yard box.

Folkestone were getting joy down the right and Stevenson was released by James Everitt before crossing for Booth to head the ball on for Newman who cracked a left-footed hooked half-volley, which dipped just over the crossbar from 25-yards.

“I was really disappointed because I thought we should have gone on and got the third or the fourth really but that’s how it goes,” added Cugley.

Stevenson then cut inside past Maxted towards the edge of the Faversham penalty area before threading the ball into Booth’s feet, who flicked his path forward for Stevenson, but he was denied by Overland, who did well to smother the ball at the midfielder’s feet.

Turner felt Harvey should have got his name on the scoresheet for the second time in the 73rd minute when he was released down the right and cut inside before hitting a right-footed drive which sailed across Roberts and past the far post.

Turner said: “He’s got two options there. Either hit it towards the back post low and hard or he puts it on a plate for someone so there’s his two options. Unfortunately he went near post, which in this case was the wrong option.”

Turner decided to throw on the big guys for the final exchanges so Harvey was partnered by substitutes Jack Harris and Danny Hockton.

And Faversham Town were to be denied an equaliser as the game edged towards the final ten minutes.

Substitute Aaron Lacy pumped forward a right-footed free-kick from the half-way line and the ball found its way to Maxted who caressed his left-footed volley towards goal from four-yards out but Roberts dived to his left to push the ball away to safety.

Turner said: “He has scored goals Jamie and generally he is good in that situation but I think he did hit it too close to the keeper and he gave him the opportunity to save it.

“I think if he gets any sort of power either side of the keeper it’s an equaliser and great timing on the equaliser because I think at any stage we got the equaliser I felt we had enough momentum to go on and win the game.”

Cugley said: “Good save.  Again Tim’s done well for us. He’s come in. I didn’t know much about him. Matt Newman said he was a good keeper and he was at Walton & Hersham. We got him here and he’s done well for us.  A couple little of mistakes but generally he’s been a good keeper. He’s done well. He’s a good kicker of the ball. He’s been a good signing.”

Meanwhile, at the other end, Micheal Everitt clipped the ball down the right again to release Ter Horst, but his attempted right-footed chip drifted harmlessly wide of the far post.

Ter Horst then latched onto the ball following an error from Brown, but sent his left-footed drive sailing over from fifteen-yards.

Faversham Town created the last chance at the death when Lacy’s free-kick was headed away for Marsden to send his right-footed dipping volley over the crossbar from 25-yards.

Cugley takes his side to basement side Eastbourne Town on Wednesday – a side that have collected 21 points from 32 games and are nine points adrift of safety.

“They’re fighting for their lives,” said Cugley. “I said to the lads it was a great win today but you’ve got to win the next one. That’s important.  We were lucky to get a result here (against them earlier on in the season). They were quite good. We’ve improved since then as well. We’re up there so hopefully we can go there and get a result.”

When asked about their eight point lead over Faversham Town, Cugley replied: “There’s a long way to go mate. It can change. That’s what’s great about football. We know every game’s important. We’ve got to keep plugging away and get results.”

Turner wants his side to keep the pressure on Hastings United, now that Folkestone Invicta are out of sight at present.

“It’s very much down to the character of the players now,” said Turner. “We said to the players our season can go one way or another.  It could either make that top five now work very, very hard for their points and still feel we’re chasing them or let them have an easy ride and let the top five get away and the play offs will effectively be set in stone in a few weeks’ time.

“I know the players and I know what we’re all about and what we’ve done in the last eighteen months then there’s only one way to go and that’s try to win games of football and put as much pressure on the teams as much as we can.

“There’s no doubt about it, it’s a blow to our hopes of getting in the top five. I fully admit that and all we can do now is try to win some consecutive games and put pressure on and just try to let them know that we’re still around.

“It’s a long season and if you can put on a little run of three wins together all off a sudden that gap goes back to give and I’d like to get to the situation where we’re within a win of someone by the end of the season. That’s got to be the aim now.”

Folkestone Invicta: Tim Roberts, Josh Vincent, James Everitt, Liam Friend, Frankie Chappell, Matt Newman, Michael Yianni (Phil Stevenson 61), Nat Blanks, Johan Ter Horst, Paul Booth, Micheal Everitt.
Subs: Simon Austin, Roland Edge

Goals: Paul Booth 5, Johan Ter Horst 14

Booked: James Everitt 45

Faversham Town: Simon Overland, Ashley Brown, Jamie Maxted, Aiden Sherlock (Aaron Lacy 76), Matt Bourne, John Scarborough, Darren Marsden, Dave Botterill, Brendon Cass (Danny Hockton 81), Luke Harvey, Renford Tenyue (Jack Harris 76).
Subs: Daniel King, Wesley Miller

Goal: Luke Harvey 40

Booked: Ashley Brown 26, Brendon Cass 32

Attendance: 341
Referee: Mr Lee Dyson (Gravesend)
Assistants: Mr Jack Packman (Margate) & Mr Michael Marsh (Herne Bay)

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