Hythe Town 3-2 Folkestone Invicta - That will do them good for the start of the season but for us it does us good as well because we realise we have to put this right, says Folkestone Invicta assistant Roland Edge

Saturday 20th July 2019
Hythe Town 3 – 2 Folkestone Invicta
Location Reachfields Stadium, off Fort Road, Hythe, Kent CT21 6JS
Kickoff 20/07/2019 15:00

Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday 20 July 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Reachfields Stadium

FOLKESTONE INVICTA assistant manager Roland Edge insists his players’ were not good enough after crashing to a pre-season defeat at their neighbours Hythe Town.


This was Neil Cugley’s side fifth outing, having opened against three professional outfits in the shape of Dover Athletic (2-3), Maidstone United (1-1) and Gillingham (0-4), before they came away from Faversham Town with a 4-0 win.

Folkestone Invicta kick-off their Isthmian Premier Division campaign with a home clash against Worthing on Saturday 10 August, but the Cannons start their Isthmian League South East Division campaign seven days later with a trip to Burgess Hill Town and this was Sam Denly’s side first pre-season outing.

Folkestone Invicta were a dominant force for the first half-an-hour but they only had Jerson Dos Santos’ goal to show but Hythe Town turned it around and put in a vastly-improved performance after the interval.

Winger Aaron Simpson, 20, who was released by League One side Gillingham in the summer, started the fight-back by placing a lovely shot into the corner, before Finn O’Mara bundled the ball into his own goal before Rhys Bartlett skipped past the keeper to score.

Folkestone Invicta pulled a goal back with four minutes from time through Alfie Paxman’s first time stunning strike.

“We’re happy with the result,” said coach Herbie Tyler, who took the post-match press conference with manager Sam Denly unavailable through family commitments.

“We weren’t looking at the result really. This is our first game together, we’ve had a lot of wholesale changes in the squad, seven or eight changes so to do that well, we’re really happy.

“I thought we did alright in the first half when we were just finding our feet.  That was Folkestone’s fifth game and that was our first and it took us a little while to get ticking but when we did I think we found good areas and we attacked.”

Edge said: “Not good enough to be honest! I know you have to rotate and you make changes because everyone has to get the fitness and minutes in pre-season but in general, not good enough!

“I thought we started bright and minute after minute as the game went on we got worse!

“Substitutions didn’t really take a part in that. I thought the players out there actually started to reject their position and pretty much do what they wanted and it goes wrong from that point onwards.

“Fair play to Hythe, I thought they looked solid and stuck to their task and they deserved the 3-2.

“Listen, when we come down here we’re expected to be the better side – we’re a league above and they’re trying to rebuild from last season or whatever but you know Hythe are always going to be an organised solid unit and brought in some good players, so we knew what to expect. The only thing is we really beat ourselves.”

A crowd of 402 turned out at Reachfields Stadium to see Folkestone Invicta start the game on the front foot.

Ira Jackson threw the ball to O’Mara, who delivered a deep cross in from the left towards the far post where an unmarked Josh Vincent was given time and space to plant his free header over the crossbar from eight-yards, as Hythe’s left-back Michael Oshin switched off and allowed in the Invicta right-back.

Edge said: “It was a great cross and I’ve got to say that JV does that brilliantly.  He times it around the back, got a great leap, a great header.  I expected him to do better but I thought he got in a great position and it was just a little unfortunate.”

Tyler said: “I think both sides were playing attacking football. We both went out to attack early and there were a lot of early chances.”

Vincent got in behind for a second time as he met Ian Draycott’s deep floated cross but this time his free header bounced once and landed into the hands of former Dartford keeper Ryan Nicholls.

Folkestone Invicta midfielder Scott Heard unleashed an angled low drive from 30-yards, which was spilt by Nicholls at the near post before the Cannons keeper gathered at the second attempt.

Folkestone Invicta went close when Jackson spun his man in midfield, drove straight down the heart of the pitch before passing to Johan ter Horst, who played the ball out to Dos Santos, who teed up Draycott, who stroked a first time left-footed drive that flashed just past the foot of the right-hand post.

Edge said: “I don’t really let players’ have excuses and stuff like that. We actually had some good passages of play out there and good openings.

“Some would argue if you’re striking the ball from a distance the keepers are comfortable with but the pitch was a little bit sticky and a little bit long.  If it was a league game where it’s cut a little bit shorter and a little bit zippier it probably would’ve tested the keeper a lot more.  It was a tough pitch to strike the ball cleanly because of the length of the grass.”

Folkestone Invicta deservedly opened the scoring with 19 minutes and 40 seconds on the clock.

O’Mara advanced and floated a deep cross over the Hythe Town left-back to Vincent, who swept the ball across the face of the goal for Dos Santos to place his low shot across the diving keeper’s hand to find the bottom far corner.

Edge said: “Again it was quite a good move. It was quite patient. I thought at times in the first half we actually moved the ball quite quickly, which is what you need to do here, definitely.

“It went out wide, a good delivery, JV there to square it and Santos scores a goal and I thought he deserved it. He held the ball up well today.”

Tyler said: “I felt we were a bit unlucky on the goal. I thought we defended well throughout that half.  It was our first major defensive error on the ball and ended up in the back of the net.

“I thought the way we bounced back, we didn’t lose our heads when we went behind quite early and to go in 1-0 down at half-time was a big achievement.”

Draycott was featuring in a deep midfield position as ter Horst was playing in the striker’s number nine role.

Draycott drove straight through the heart of the pitch before drilling his shot just past the left-hand post from within the D.

Hythe Town weathered the storm, however, and created their first goalscoring chance in the 27th minute.

Former Margate striker Frannie Collin stroked his right-footed free-kick past a five-man wall and Tim Roberts made a comfortable save as Collin tried to find the bottom right-hand corner from 25-yards.

“Frannie brings a lot of experience and he knows how to get out of this league and we’re looking to bring in players’ that win things and Frannie is one of those players,” said Tyler.

“He brings a lot of ability and you saw that today, he got a really good assist and a bit of experience throughout the core of the team.”

Edge added: “You know what you get from Frannie. He does have bits of quality.

“I thought we were in command in the first half, especially for the first 25 minutes and then for whatever reason players’ started to do silly things and I thought we lost our own shape.  They didn’t cause us problems, we lost our own shape and then at that half even ended I thought Hythe were probably on top.”

Folkestone Invicta missed another opening on the half-hour mark when ter Horst picked up a loose ball and skipped over a tackle before dragging his shot past the left-hand post from 20-yards.

Hythe Town started to find a way back into the game and Adam Woollcott played the ball out to his former Canterbury City team-mate, right-back Ryan Cooper, who fed Simpson, who cut inside and flashed his angled drive across the keeper and past the far post from 22-yards.

Folkestone Invicta created yet another chance just before half-time when ter Horst drove forward again and played the ball into Dos Santos, who dragged his shot into Nicholl’s gloves as he tried to nestle his shot into the bottom left-hand corner.

“They did have a few chances but again we’ve just done enough to make it difficult for me to get a shot off,” said Tyler.

“A lot of their shots were off target.  I think their attacks down the left and right-hand side and the full-backs did excellently.  Ryan Cooper and Michael done really well to block as many shots as they can and make it difficult to get shots off.”

Folkestone Invicta made four changes at the break, changed their shape to a back-three and lost their way as Hythe Town vastly improved.

“We told them just not to panic! We’re playing against a decent side who narrowly missed out on the play-offs last year and they got to the play-offs the year before,” said Tyler.

“They’re playing in the league above so just to be realistic, we weren’t going in 3-0 at half-time against a decent side and we’ve done well to manage our performance against a good side there and we had all to play for.”

Edge said: “Well at half-time whether you’re winning or losing you have to identify what’s not quite working and at half-time we said to them you started well but it’s all gone to pot. Our shape was gone, we’re not moving it and not making the pitch wide enough so we were pretty much ranting at half-time as well about what we needed to do.

“We told them things to look out for which his quite disappointing because they scored from one of them but pretty much making them aware of the possible problems that could occur and we said to them to go back to how they started playing the game.”

Jackson cut in from the left and cut the ball onto his right-foot and drove in shot towards the bottom near corner from 22-yards, which was spilt by Nicholls again but the Cannons keeper had time to gather the loose ball after only 114 seconds into the second half.

Edge said: “Ira’s fallen under the category, I thought he started really well.  We had him when we played Dover and Ira and Santos did well straight away and I thought they did well today for 25 minutes and then the game kind of fizzled out from that point onwards.  Ira’s a good player, he needs to listen, he needs to learn and then he’ll get more success on the pitch and he needs more time on it.”

Hythe Town produced a good move when Simpson skipped forward, touched the ball to Sid Sollis, who teed up Collin, who powered his right-footed drive flashing just past the right-hand post from 35-yards.

Hythe Town deservedly equalised with 10 minutes and 43 seconds on the clock.

A long ball out of defence from their left-back caught out Nat Blanks, who got away with using his outstretched arm to bring the ball under control.  Referee Jak Hill ignored the offence and the ball dropped kindly for Simpson, who cut the ball onto his left foot before placing his shot across the diving keeper into the bottom far corner.

Tyler said: “It was brilliant! He made them wait for it didn’t he? He turned him and made it flashy but yes he’s a quality player and he showed a lot of promise today.

“He’s just trialling (with us) and we’ll see how he gets on and he should be in the squad on Tuesday.”

Edge said: “Well, this is the thing we addressed at half-time. Aaron Simpson’s right-leg might not even exist but he’s got a nice left peg and we said at half-time whatever you do don’t let hm on his left.

“I thought it was a bit fortuitous.  The ball is a nothing ball, Nat Blanks actually stops it running through to the keeper with his arm, which in a league game would’ve been a free-kick anyway and the lad has still got a lot to do.

“I’m a little bit disappointed. We let it on his left foot, you just show him on the right and see what he’s got but he’s scored it and put it in the bottom corner and finished it off.  Well, that’s what his left foot can do!”

Folkestone Invicta called Nicholls into action when half-time sub Paxman cut across the penalty area and as Cooper attempted to make a last ditch tackle inside the box, Paxman’s shot towards the bottom near corner forced Nicholls to dive low to his right to turn the ball behind for the away side’s first of two corners of the game.

Hythe Town took the lead by scoring their second goal of the game with 18 minutes and 20 seconds on the clock.

Cooper split open Blanks and the entire Folkestone Invicta back three and goalkeeper stood still as Collin was played in behind and easily reached the right by-line before cutting the ball back along the goal-line attempting to pick out Sollis but O’Mara got there first and slid the ball over his goal-line to score an own goal.

“It was a good ball. I thought Fran done exceptionally well to get the ball across the front of the goal like that and when he puts those balls in, it’s always a chance it’s going to ricochet in,” said Tyler.

“Sid done really well to get in those areas and cause the bundle and I thought Frannie done excellently there.”

When asked about wide man Sollis’ performance, Tyler replied: “I thought Sid was a player of two halves today.  I think second half he went out with a point to prove.  I think he really proved it and I think he done really, really well second half.

“He was a little bit quiet in the first half but it’s the first game for everyone and it can take a little bit of time.

“Gavin Theze had a good chat with him at half-time and he went out with a brilliant second half performance.”

Edge added: “That’s not good enough! No disrespect to Frannie, but some people you have to try and play offside. When Frannie breaks through I expected someone to be with him. To be honest he’s more of a technical player, a good player in that sense and he’s made a good run but no one’s tackled him at all and the minute he gets it, he’s got that quality and plays a nice ball across the box and Finn didn’t have a chance because it’s a great bal. He couldn’t leave it and then puts it in his own goal.”

Hythe Town produced a good move in the 28th minute of the second half when Cooper rolled the ball back to Woollcott, who delivered a deep cross with his left-foot.  Sollis knocked his header back and Tom Carlton drove his first time shot across goal and past the far post as it flashed off the surface.

The Cannons claimed the local bragging rights by scoring their third goal of the game with 35 minutes and 17 seconds on the clock.

Central midfielder Carlton split open a static Folkestone Invicta defence to put substitute Bartlett through on goal straight down the middle of the pitch and he skipped past the goalkeeper before slotting his left-footed shot into the bottom far corner of an open goal.

“I thought Callum was brilliant. He defended really well. He cut out a lot of attacks but he also created a lot of chances by playing those balls through and Rhys’s instinctive run. He took it around the keeper and it was a good finish, really good,” said Tyler.

“I was really impressed actually with the boys that came on as well. It’s always hard in pre-season when you’re making a lot of changes and it disrupts that play.

“I thought there’s always a risk when you’re making six or seven changes in a game, it can upset the balance but I thought every single boy just slotted in and done their job brilliantly, so it’s looking good. It was a good squad performance.”

Edge added: “That was a really disappointing goal.  Everyone’s got to learn and pre-season is about learning from the individual mistakes that you make and making them right. That’s what pre-season is about, getting the cobwebs gone so when the whistle blows on the opening day of the season that you’re ready to do.

“Finn held his hands up, he’s come out and no-ones really showed for the ball, which was quite a common occurrence in that second half so Finn’s run him outside of space and they tried to force a pass and we have said to Finn he’s a good player and there’s certain things he has to work on.

“Instead of gritting his teeth and running back into his hole he’s allowed the lad to actually bust a gut and work harder than him to run past him and it was a cool finish, a good finish but I think Finn knows and will work hard and put that sort of thing right so we’re not worried about that.”

The home side threw on three of their under 18 players in Alistair Carney, Joe Theze and Arthur Pickering for the last eight minutes and Folkestone Invicta’s more experienced players’ wrestled back control.

They pulled a goal back with 40 minutes and 33 seconds on the clock.

Kieron McCann played a cross-field pass from right-to-left to pick out Jackson and the former Dover Athletic man held the ball up and waited for Paxman to ghost in before drilling a stunning first-time left-footed drive into the roof of the net from 25-yards, giving Carney no chance.

Edge said: “Look, Alfie can finish, he’s got a lovely left-foot. The thing is I didn’t really like a lot of our play. I didn’t think we moved the ball around their box well enough to create openings, even though we had good numbers against theirs and the goal was very similar.

“Ira’s got the ball, we worked it to him. Ira’s cut inside, he hasn’t really got it out of his feet or anything like that and didn’t really know what was happening and Alfie just took it upon himself to take it off his feet and thump it into the top corner.

“He’s got that in the locker, which is great but as a front three in the second half, I was a little bit disappointed by our movement if I’m honest.”

Tyler added: “You get finishes of brilliance in these games sometimes and that was one of them!

“I didn’t think we could’ve done much with that. We were defending really well, we were seeing them out and they couldn’t get anything in the box but Alfie just latched onto a straight ball and flick.  It’s an impossible area for the keeper, he had a lot of bodies in front of him and it was a flash of brilliance. It was a really good goal.”

Folkestone Invicta almost snatched an equaliser with the last kick of the game.

An unmarked Paxman swung the ball in from the right touch-line, O’Mara knocked the ball down at the far post and Blanks hooked his first time volley just over the crossbar.

Edge admitted: “We didn’t deserve anything today so sometimes it’s nice to give another team a pat on the back.  That will do them good for the start of the season but for us it does us good as well because we realise we have to put this right. We’ve got to work hard and get ourselves ready for the start of the season.”

Tyler said: “Towards the end of the game we had about four or five under 18 players’ on the pitch and you could tell the difference really. 

“They started to attack the ball a lot more and get those late chances but we’re looking to get the young one’s a good run out. It’s all about progressing as players’ and it’s the perfect time to do that.”

Folkestone Invicta travel to play Deal Town on Monday, while Hythe Town travel to Hollands & Blair 24 hours later.

Tyler said: “It’s a very good start.  The standard has been set now so it’s down to the boys to build on that and really good foundations for the season and now we have to continue that going into the season.

“I’ve heard good things about Hollands & Blair so it will be interesting to see what they do.  It doesn’t matter what we do, we’ll keep working on things, keep creating our chances and put the ball in the back of the net.”

On his side’s four remaining pre-season outings, Edge said: “They’ll be tough, they’ll all bring something different.”

Hythe Town: Ryan Nicholls (Alistair Carney 82), Ryan Cooper, Michael Oshin, Adam Woollcott (Joe Theze 82), Ryan Johnson, Ben Fitchett (Callum Taylor 54), Sid Sollis (Arthur Pickering 82), Tom Carlton, Frannie Collin (Tom Walmsley 69), Charlie Webster (Jude Harding 82), Aaron Simpson (Rhys Bartlett 58).

Goals: Aaron Simpson 56, Finn O’Mara 64 (own goal), Rhys Bartlett 81

Folkestone Invicta: Tim Roberts (Joe Coleman 74), Josh Vincent, Finn O’Mara, Micheal Everitt (Charlie Dickens 46), Callum Davies, Matt Newman (Nat Blanks 46), Jerson Dos Santos (Alfie Paxman 46), Ian Draycott (Kieron McCann 46), Johan Ter Horst, Scott Heard (Kieron Jones 84), Ira Jackson.
Sub: Jack Price

Goals: Jerson Dos Santos 20, Alfie Paxman 86

Attendance: 402
Referee: Mr Jak Hill (Folkestone)
Assistants: Mr Simon Finnigan (Folkestone) & Mr Ben Marshall