Maldon & Tiptree 4-3 Folkestone Invicta - If I paid to watch that I would say it's one of the best games that I've ever seen in my life - but as a manager it was a 20 minute nightmare, says Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley

Wednesday 13th November 2019
Maldon & Tiptree 4 – 3 Folkestone Invicta
Location Wallace Binder Ground, Park Drive, Maldon, Essex CM9 5JQ
Kickoff 13/11/2019 19:45

The Buildbase FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round
Wednesday 13 November 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Park Drive

FOLKESTONE INVICTA manager Neil Cugley says he was angry with his players after they were knocked out of The Buildbase FA Trophy by an impressive Maldon & Tiptree side.

Wayne Brown’s men were unbeaten in all 21 games this season and only two changes were made from the side that shocked League Two side Leyton Orient in The FA Cup First Round at the weekend after the Jammers claimed a historic 2-0 victory at Brisbane Road.

It appeared to be a case of After the Lord Mayors Show for Maldon & Tiptree as Folkestone Invicta raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes, courtesy of goals from Ira Jackson and Alfie Paxman.

However, the turning point came just a couple of minutes later when Jerson Dos Santos was guilty of penalty miss off the season as his arrogant Panenka went over the crossbar and the miss sucked all life out of his team-mates for the rest of the first half.

Maldon & Tiptree took advantage of their get out of jail card as they raced into a 4-2 lead by scoring four times in a devastating 19 minute spell, with striker Charlee Hughes scoring a hat-trick to take his tally to 19 for the season, while highly-rated Jorome Slew notched his 22nd goal of the campaign.

Folkestone Invicta were the dominant side during the second half and they pulled a goal back through winger Kieron McCann’s bundled in effort but they couldn’t force a replay as Maldon & Tiptree travel to Enfield Town in the FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round on Saturday 23 November.

“I would say if I paid to watch that, I would say it’s one of the best games that I’ve ever seen in my life – but as a manager it was a 20 minute nightmare that let them get on top and also missing the penalty at the time, I think would’ve finished them off,” said Cugley.

“I thought we were so much better than them, it was embarrassing and then to actually think we lost the game, is amazing!”

Maldon & Tiptree went into this game sitting in second-place in the Isthmian League North Division table with a 100% record from their opening eight league outings, although they do have three games in hand on leaders Bury Town, who have collected two more points.

Folkestone Invicta, meanwhile, are one level higher and arrived at Park Drive sitting in second-place in the Isthmian League Premier Division table with 33 points from their 15 league outings.

Folkestone Invicta stamped their authority on the game and started on the front foot and should have scored after only 82 seconds.

Sam Hasler whipped in a good free-kick from wide on the left towards the near post but attacker Jackson planted his header over the crossbar.

Maldon & Tiptree goalkeeper Ben McNamara often played out from the back, passing to any four of his defenders before they went long and tried to find their dangerman Slew, who was often doubled up by Folkestone Invicta defenders.

Folkestone Invicta deservedly opened the scoring with nine minutes and 43 seconds on the clock.

Centre-half Callum Davies played the ball out of defence into Jackson, who played the ball out to right-back Josh Vincent, who released Jackson down the right and in behind Maldon & Tiptree centre-half Lance Akins.

Jackson sprinted into the penalty area before drilling his powerfully struck right-footed drive which was too hot for McNamara to handle to score from a tight angle for his 11th goal of the season.

“We were so much on top then, I thought we played really well. I told them just carry on, we were completely in control of the game,” said Cugley.

Vincent then released Dos Santos down the right, who cut into the penalty area before crossing for Jackson, but his marker got across him to get the touch to poke the ball past the foot of the right-hand post and behind for a corner.

Folkestone Invicta were comfortably two goals ahead with 19 minutes and 55 seconds on the clock.

Vincent floated the ball into Dos Santos’ chest, before Ronnie Dolan released Scott Heard down the right as left-back Billy Cracknell was often exposed by pace.

Heard put it on a plate for Paxman, who ghosted in at the far post to smash a first time left-footed drive past McNamara.

“A brilliant goal, an absolute superb goal really,” hailed Cugley.

“The whole movement was a joy to watch and Alfie does what he does so often, sneaks in at the far post and puts it in.”

Cugley was asked whether he felt Maldon & Tiptree were suffering from their FA Cup hangover at this point in the game.

He said: “I think it can work the other way, they must be buzzing as well!  I think in some ways, I think it was how well we played.  I think we were that good, outstanding. One of the best performances I’ve seen of a team, losing, we’ve had since I’ve been a manager, I’d say.  Some of the football, pinging it in there and coming out again, we did so many good things but that 20 minutes just cost us!”

Folkestone Invicta should have had the game dead and buried with 21 minutes and 58 seconds on the clock.

A long ball out of defence by Davies released Dos Santos through on goal and last-defender Quba Gordon brought him down.  As it was inside the box, a penalty and a yellow card was the punishment.

Dos Santos was guilty of the penalty miss of the season and his arrogance cost Folkestone Invicta immensely.

Goalkeeper McNamara had already dived to his left by the time that Dos Santos’s Panenka dinked penalty dropped over the crossbar.

“The penalty, I don’t like those penalties anyway, trying to dink it in. Missing that, I think it got to the players a little bit,” admitted Cugley.

“I suppose if they go in they look good but if they don’t you look a bit foolish and he’s not even hit the goal. It was a poor, poor miss!”

When asked what he said to Dos Santos during the interval, Cugley replied: “It was not repeatable!”

The horrific miss sucked the life out of his team-mates and Maldon & Tiptree’s attacking play during a devastating 20 minute spell was breathtakingly brilliant.

Hasler was penalised for a foul on Slew and Cracknell played a short free-kick into Slew down the left.  Central midfielder Stephane Ngamvoulou, a calm influence in a key area, fed Slew in behind Vincent and he cut inside and steered an angled drive across keeper Henry Newcombe, who parried the ball into Hughes’ feet and the striker took a touch before smashing his shot into the net from six-yards out.

“I didn’t think it was necessary to give the free-kick away in that area to be fair,” added Cugley.

“We were so much on top in the game that we just wanted to keep the ball a little while.”

McCann was a threat down the left wing for Folkestone Invicta in the first half and was a lot quieter when Jammers manager Brown made a switch in the 65th minute and brought on Al-Amin Kazeem at left-back and moving Cracknell inside to partner Gordon at the heart of defence, while Kojo Awotwi stayed at right-back.

McCann cut in from the left flank before curling his shot around the diving keeper towards the bottom far corner but McNamara got a slight touch to tip it behind for a corner.  Folkestone Invicta won the corner count 9-2 tonight.

Folkestone Invicta then capitulated, which is very unlike Folkestone Invicta, as Maldon & Tiptree equalised with 34 minutes and 13 seconds on the clock.

They patiently built-up just inside the Folkestone Invicta half in midfield with Ngamvoulou and Cracknell before holding midfielder Laste Dombaxe lofted the ball into the Folkestone box and Hughes showed his class by clipping the ball over Paxman and then Newcombe.

“Obviously the first goal has got them back a little bit, got them going a little bit but at that time we were still on top of the game,” said Cugley.

“I was quite happy, really happy with how we were playing. I’m obviously disappointed that we’ve let the second goal in but just felt we was in control.”

Maldon & Tiptree were guilty of a glorious miss when Slew cut into the box down the left and put it on a plate for Danny Parish at the far post but he put his low shot past the foot of the near post from six-yards when he only had Newcombe to beat.

Folkestone Invicta missed a good chance to change the outcome of the game when Paxman released McCann charging down the left and his cross was precise but Dos Santos failed to apply the finish at the near post on the corner of the six-yard box as his header sailed across the keeper and past the far post.

Referee Stuart Cheek was being observed tonight and he should have sent-off Folkestone Invicta centre-half Matthew Newman for his last-man sliding foul on Slew just four yards outside the box.

Newman received a yellow card and wideman Parish had two bites of the cherry from the resulting free-kick. His initial drive was smashed into the wall, his second attempt was comfortably gathered by Newcombe on his knees.

Maldon & Tiptree took the lead for the first time with 43 minutes and 11 seconds on the clock.

Folkestone Invicta had chances to clear their lines before and during a scramble as Ngamboulou’s shot was blocked, Hyde’s shot was blocked by Newcombe before Slew swept his shot into the bottom left-hand corner from a couple of yards out.

“We had three or four chances to clear! That was the poorest goal of the lot, I felt. That was a real poor goal to give away defensively. We had chances to clear that ball and we didn’t and that was a poor defensive goal,” complained Cugley.

Folkestone Invicta were crashing out of The FA Trophy by the time that Maldon & Tiptree scored their fourth goal of the game 30 seconds into injury time.

Former Ashford United striker Parish slipped in a low pass to Hughes, who had his back to goal inside the Folkestone Invicta penalty area, before he turned his man and curled a sublime right-footed chip around keeper Newcombe into the top far corner of the net from 15-yards.

Cugley said: “That was a great goal! It was a great finish.  Obviously, they’ve gone from their chins on the floor to bubbling but that’s where I think we missed Micheal Everitt in there to control it and get tight in midfield and get people tighter in there to stop the rot.”

Maldon & Tiptree’s attacking football during their 20 minute spell was a joy to watch and is on another level and don’t be surprised if they go on to win their division this season. 

At half-time, Cugley said: “Not a lot you can say, a bit embarrassed by the situation, that you’re in complete control of the game, you’re sitting there and you’re 4-2 down, so obviously we said can we get back into the game?

“We knew there would be more chances, really did know that. We knew the game wasn’t finished. If we could get tighter in midfield and do a job.

“The penalty was such a disappointing penalty.  Players got a little bit down and we just let them back in.  I think especially we didn’t get tight enough to them.

“We had a set plan how we would play, we knew how they would play and we did everything right for that first 20-25 minutes and then we let them back in it because we started to give them room and space and then they are a good side, they are a good side then.  I wouldn’t say they were the best side I’ve seen this year. We’re in a good league and that’s no disrespect, I didn’t mean it against them, but they’re not bad going forward.”

Folkestone Invicta were the better side during a dominant second half as they pegged Maldon & Tiptree on the back foot for a large majority of the half.

Folkestone Invicta needed an early breakthrough and they missed a sitter with 75 seconds on the clock.

The ball was played up and into Jackson’s feet and he held off his marker before putting it on a plate for Hasler, who drilled his first time shot over the crossbar from 12-yards.

“Hasler will be disappointed he didn’t score when it dropped to him. I thought that would’ve been important then, that would’ve brought us to 4-3 very early,” added Cugley.

“I can’t knock how we played going forward.  I thought some of the football we played tonight, it was a lovely pitch, we played some tremendous football.”

Midfielder Scott Heard then slipped a 25-yard diagonal pass into Jackson, whose left-footed drive was spilt by McNamara whilst on his knees before the keeper – who didn’t hold too many shots at his goal during the game – gathered the loose ball.

Heard starred to get into the game more during this stage and he fed McCann, who cut inside and his low angled drive took a deflection and forced McNamara to dive low to his right to push the ball away in the 55th minute.

Folkestone Invicta kept banging on the door and they should have scored again on the hour-mark.

Paxman switched the play from left-to-right to Davies, who unleashed an angled drive which was parried by McNamara, again.  The ball ran out to Dolan, who lashed his drive over the crossbar from 30-yards.

“Another one, you could be here all night, couldn’t you,” said Cugley when asked about the chance.

Folkestone Invicta deserved to pull a third goal back, which was timed at 17 minutes and 14 seconds on the clock.

Jackson held the ball up close to the corner flag down the right before he cut the ball back to Heard, who whipped in a deep cross from the touchline and McCann steamed in to bundle the ball over the line from two-yards out.

“Kieron deserved a goal, I thought Kieron McCann was outstanding tonight, as most of my attacking players were,” said Cugley.

This thrilling game didn’t have a final twist, despite Folkestone Invicta pressing to try to force a replay next Tuesday.

With rain falling after 75 minutes into the game, a mistake from Folkestone Invicta’s substitute centre-half Finn O’Mara set up the home side’s only real chance when Dombaxe slipped through a pass for Hughes, who was denied his fourth goal of the night by a smart save from Newcombe in the 80th minute.

“At the time, that was one of a few chances. I don’t know what the corner count must’ve been (9-2 in Folkestone’s favour). It just shows at times we were very, very good,” added Cugley.

Akins was a very lucky boy 81 seconds into injury time when the Maldon & Tiptree centre-half sliced Jackson’s cross just the wrong side of the post for a Invicta perspective and the away side’s ninth and final corner came to nothing.

“I honestly thought we’d get a fourth goal. We were so much on top. I thought we’d get one because they had one shot in the second half. We were just dominating it,” said Cugley.

“It’s just one of those disappointments that you could be angry and I’ve been angry with the players for that 20 minutes and it would’ve been nice to have gone in and said ‘well done, you’ve got us back into it and we’ll beat them next week,’ but now it’s gone!”

Nganvoulou was a composed figure in the Maldon & Tiptree midfield all night and that was where the game was won and lost and Dos Santos’ arrogance from the penalty spot was the key moment in this exciting game, played by two very good teams, who play attractive football. 

Maldon & Tiptree have enjoyed being at home in The FA Trophy this season and have scooped £8,200 in prize money after beating Felixstowe & Walton United (5-0) in the Extra Preliminary Round, before beating Cray Valley (5-2) and Cray Wanderers (3-0) and a second Premier Division club tonight.

Folkestone Invicta beat their Isthmian Premier Division rivals Lewes 2-0 in the First Qualifying Round and have scooped £3,450 in prize money from their short campaign in this competition.

Folkestone Invicta travel to north London to tackle Enfield Town in the Isthmian Premier Division on Saturday (15:00).

Horsham sit proudly at the summit with 34 points from 16 games, while Folkestone Invicta (33 points from 15 games), Hornchurch (29 points from 14 games), Cray Wanderers (28 points from 16 games) and Enfield Town (27 points from 12 games) occupy the four play-off berths.

“It will be hard, it’s a good league, a very strong league,” said Cugley.

“They’re up there, they might look at the league table and think they can beat us and maybe win one of their games in hand and they’re right up there.

“I think the league table is starting to get to where we thought it would be if I’m honest. Some of the other teams are starting to get up there like Cray Wanderers, Worthing (in sixth-place and eighth-placed) Bognor Regis.

“I could’ve written down the top 10 and I don’t think I’d be far wrong.  I can’t show you, we’re still in it, hopefully.

“I think us and Horsham, I suppose are the two that in some ways, what do they say? Punching above their weight really. We’ve both got a lot of players’ that have played at lower standards and trying to prove a point. I think all credit to them and to Folkestone, how well we’re doing.”

Cugley had this message to the fans that made the trip into Essex to support their team tonight.

“They’re brilliant aren’t they, they come along whatever and I’m disappointed for them really because I’d love to have taken them back. I think it would’ve been nice to have taken them back next week and have a good game at Folkestone.”

Maldon & Tiptree: Ben McNamara, Kojo Awotwi, Billy Cracknell, Laste Dombaxe, Lance Akins (Al-Amin Kazeem 65), Quba Gordon, Danny Parish (Hamza Kaid 72), Stephane Ngamvoulou, Charlee Hughes (Sam Coombes 87), Tyrique Hyde, Jorome Slew.
Subs: Jake Brice-Wiffen, Luke O’Reilly

Goals: Charlee Hughes 26, 35, 45, Jorome Slew 44

Booked: Quba Gordon 22, Billy Cracknell 59

Folkestone Invicta: Henry Newcombe, Josh Vincent, Alfie Paxman, Sam Hasler, Callum Davies, Matthew Newman (Finn O’Mara 70), Kieron McCann, Ronnie Dolan (Johan Ter Horst 78), Jerson Dos Santos, Scott Heard, Ira Jackson.
Subs: Micheal Everitt, Tim Roberts

Goals: Ira Jackson 10, Alfie Paxman 20, Kieron McCann 63

Booked: Matthew Newman 42, Callum Davies 49, Sam Hasler 70, Josh Vincent 76, Scott Heard 76

Attendance: 196
Referee: Mr Stuart Cheek (Stevenage, Hertfordshire)
Assistants: Mr Mahdi El-Halawany (Witham, Essex) & Mr Dumitri Gheorghe Vasile (Chelmsford, Essex)