Folkestone Invicta 3-1 Gravesend & Northfleet

Saturday 15th July 2006

Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday 15th July 2006
Stephen McCartney reports from Buzzlines Stadium


A string of superb saves from Tony Kessell ensured Folkestone Invicta returned to winning ways today.

The goalkeeper, who turns 28 in September, and lives in Gravesend, frustrated the full-time Nationwide Conference visitors - until the 73rd minute.

Former Gillingham striker Mark Lovell, whose on trial from Sittingbourne, where he netted 13 goals last season, steered Luke Moore’s off-target drive into the bottom far corner past Kessell’s desperate dive.

But the Ryman Premier League hosts, who lost 2-0 to Gillingham last Wednesday, won the game courtesy of goals from Paul Jones, a Kevin Watson penalty and a stunning strike from youngster Simon Rainbow.

Pre-season matches tend to peter our during the second half, but today, all four goals were scored after the half-time break.

Invicta boss Neil Cugley fielded his settled 18-man squad but Fleet boss Liam Daish started with just two players that finished last season - Peter Hawkins and Ross Smith - using a string of trialists from the Football League and some possible stars for the future from their youth side.

Former Folkestone Invicta, Hythe Town and Margate goalkeeper Paul Egan was drafted into Daish’s squad as a late replacement as an unnamed goalkeeper pulled his calf in training and was unable to make his first start for the Fleet.

Invicta’s star defender Lee Shearer missed the game due to an ankle injury.

However, the best chance of the first half came after 28 minutes when Kessell (pictured) made his first great save of the afternoon.

STOPPER: Folkestone Invicta goalkeeper
Tony Kessell

New signing, Frenchman, Sasha Opinel, 29, whipped in a cross from the left towards the far post onto Rob Quinn’s head, but his downward header was brilliantly blocked by the in-form stopper.

Another summer signing, John Keeling impressed for the Fleet during his first half showing and will be a very good acquisition for the Stonebridge Road club.

The Fleet should have opened their account for the new season early in the second half.

Opinel burst forward before squaring the ball to Stacy Long, who teed up Mark De Bolla.

The trialist, whose played for Grays Athletic, took the ball around Kessell, and after Invicta got bodies back, lost composure and blazed his shot high over the bar.

Invicta’s best chance came four minutes before their equaliser.

Steve Norman’s deep cross from the left was met by a powerful header from James Everitt, which was turned around the near post by Egan.

But the emergency goalkeeper was beaten after 56 minutes.

Norman’s near-post corner was flicked on by Adam Flanagan and Paul Jones, who missed the last 17 games of last season through injury, headed home inside the near post.

Kessell pulled off another excellent save when, flying to his right, he tipped George Bassell’s fierce drive onto the post but eastern European trialist Vladimr Petrovic blazed the rebound over.

Impressive 24-year-old striker Walid Matata won the home side a penalty after 72 minutes when he was brought down by a clumsy challenge from former Wycombe Wanderers defender Daniel Brown.

Kevin Watson made no mistake from the penalty spot, sending Egan the wrong way.

But within a minute the Fleet had pulled a goal back and Lovell did his reputation no harm, having come off the substitutes bench just five minutes earlier.

Invicta wrapped up the victory with seven minutes remaining when Rainbow’s right-footed 25-yard drive whistled into the bottom left hand corner after good work from another former youth team player, Ben Sly.


Folkestone Invicta: Tony Kessell, James Everett (Joe Neilson 68), Steve Norman (Liam Friend 68), Adam Flanagan, Paul Lamb, Mark Saunders (Stuart Myall 45), Martin Chandler (Michael Everitt 45), Kevin Watson, Paul Jones (Rob Knott 62), Matt Carruthers (Simon Rainbow 78), Walid Matata (Ben Sly 78).

Goals: Paul Jones 56, Kevin Watson 72, Simon Rainbow 81

Gravesend & Northfleet: Paul Egan, Peter Hawkins (Guy Lopez 68), Ross Smith, Daniel Brown, Sasha Opinel (Charlie Ball 86), John Keeling (George Purcell 45), Stacy Long (Sam Groombridge 86), Rob Quinn (Vladimir Petrovic 45), Mark De Bolla (Shane Garrick 63), Jefferson Louis (Mark Lovell 68), Jermaine Boyce (Luke Moore 55).
Subs not used: Mike McKenna, Aaron Fimbo, Jackson Ohakan.

Goal: Mark Lovell 73

Referee: Mr David Buck
Assistants: Mr Martin Staveley & Mr Graham Bryant