Tooting & Mitcham United 0-1 Folkestone Invicta - I wouldn’t buy a we’re going up scarf just yet! There’s a lot of work to do, says Folkestone Invicta assistant manager Roland Edge

Tuesday 24th October 2017
Tooting & Mitcham United 0 – 1 Folkestone Invicta
Location Imperial Fields, Bishopsford Road, Morden, Surrey SM4 6BF
Kickoff 24/10/2017 19:45

Bostik Premier Division
Tuesday 24th October 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Imperial Fields

FOLKESTONE INVICTA assistant manager Roland Edge says a winning mentality within the squad has helped them to come close to gatecrashing the Bostik Premier play-off party.


Neil Cugley’s side climbed six-places into seventh-place in the table with 23 points on the board from 12 games, a point adrift of the play-off zone, following their 1-0 victory over ten-man Tooting & Mitcham United at Imperial Fields.

Tooting & Mitcham United remain second-from-bottom in the table on 12 points from 14 games after Frank Wilson’s side lost their eighth league game of the season as their winning run of three (including a 2-1 win at Tonbridge Angels at the weekend) came to an end.

Tooting & Mitcham United hit the crossbar during the first half and central midfielder Chace O’Neill skied a penalty on the stroke of half-time, before O’Neill was sent-off for collecting his second yellow card of the night ten minutes into the second half.

Folkestone Invicta also hit the crossbar at the end of the first half and sealed the three points through a second-half header from central defender Callum Davies, 24.

“Do you know, it’s hard fought today and credit to Tooting to be honest, they were well in the game, went down to 10 men and I think that pretty much made that tell for the first 10-15 minutes while he was off,” said Edge, following his club’s eighth league win of the campaign.

“Scott Heard made some great runs in behind, we got a good goal from a corner but really from open play, we could’ve got two or three but we still got three points and that’s all that matters really.”

Tooting & Mitcham United started the game on the front foot, with right-winger Juevan Spencer causing Nathaniel Blanks problems with his pace.

The home side created their first opening inside the opening five minutes when Spencer played the ball inside to O’Neill, who clipped his shot on the turn just past the right-hand post from 30-yards.

Edge said: “I mean, credit to Tooting, they had lots of energy. Dixon up front caused trouble all night long and they moved the ball well and they looked compact and they started the game full of confidence after beating Tonbridge, which is what you’d expect and they did go at us and luckily for us they didn’t score and we were able to settle ourselves down and go again.”

Folkestone Invicta were keen to play the ball out wide to left-winger Kieron McCann often during the first half and Sam Hasler’s deep free-kicks sailed over Josh Vincent’s head at the far post on four occasions.

“We had a little chat at half-time me and Cugs about what we was doing and I thought we were a little bit slow in what we did,” admitted Edge. 

“We needed to have an extra pass, like Draycott said at half-time, which was pretty simple going out, coming back and going out to the wing.  Instead we were hitting it into space behind their full-backs and they’re an athletic side and they enjoy that.”

Tooting & Mitcham United were cursing their luck when they struck the crossbar after 18 minutes.

Left-back Peter Wedgeworth swung in a free-kick from the right with his left-foot and the ball came over to Callum McNaughton at the far post and the 25-year-old central defender struck his half-volley crashing against the crossbar from eight-yards.

Edge said: “For a centre half, it was quite instinctive to be fair.  It fell to him and he hit it on the half-volley and fortunately for us it went a little high and hit the bar. We did actually ride our luck a little bit at times in that first half but it’s just how it goes really.”

Folkestone Invicta created a half-chance in the 32nd minute when Scott Heard swung in their first corner of the night, from the left, towards the far post where Davies issued the hosts a warning by towering over Dominic Morgan-Griffiths at the far post to plant his header past the top of the near post from a tight-angle.

Folkestone Invicta keeper Tim Roberts was called into action in the 36th minute after the home side produced a good move.

Spencer played a pass inside to number 10 Sandy Cunningham, who put Spencer through on goal and the winger cracked a right-footed drive towards the top near corner from 16-yards, forcing Roberts to palm the ball behind, high to his left.

“That’s the good thing, sometimes the goalkeeper’s don’t get the credit,” said Edge.

“They’re often the people who get dug out when they concede a sloppy goal but that’s the nice thing about Tim. He may not do a great deal in the game but when he does he’s obviously a rock at the back and we can rely on him to make those kind of saves.”

McCann cut inside full-back Eddie Dines to float over a deep cross but the angle was too tight for striker Ian Draycott, hooking his shot over the top of the near post.

Tooting & Mitcham United, the better side during the first half, wasted glorious chances to edge in front.

Impressive striker Michael Dixon ran with the ball towards the corner of the penalty area before floating over a cross to an unmarked Spencer, who took a touch before producing a woeful shot at the far post, slotting his shot wide of the goal from 10-yards.

Folkestone Invicta’s best chance then arrived with 43 minutes and 26 seconds on the clock.

Joe Taylor, who came in for suspended 10-goal striker Ade Yusuff, drew a free-kick off Rowe and Hasler drilled his left-footed free-kick against the underside of the crossbar from 23-yards in a central position.

“It’s no secret in this league, Hasler hits it right and it’s on target, good luck goalkeeper,” said Edge.

“The last two games he’s actually had it hitting the target from his repertoire of free-kicks and shots but today, a brilliant strike, on another day it goes in. It hits the underside of the bar and they live on their luck a little bit.”

Dixon danced his way past four Folkestone players to reach the edge of the box before finding O’Neill in space on the other side of the box but his low shot was blocked by Roberts’ legs.

Seconds later, O’Neill turned Blanks, who sent him tripping to the ground and referee Bhupinder Gill pointed to the spot.

O’Neil stepped up and will go down as contender for the worst penalty of the season, hitting his right-footed penalty into the terracing behind the goal.

Edge said: “We’ll, it’s one of those things. There’s only one winner on a penalty and that’s not the taker, it’s the goalie. He’s stepped up with confidence, he’s had a go and luckily for us he’s skied it really and that was the start of the end.”

When asked his thoughts at the break, Edge said: “Pretty much, let’s be patient. We needed to build it up a little bit more gradually. We were trying to get in with one ball straight, it was never going to happen! It was going to run through straight to the goalkeeper, so we were trying to say work on the angles and build it up.  Scott Heard did brilliantly. He was always spinning from behind, creating lots of chances really for Draycott and Joe.”

Folkestone Invicta put in an improved performance during the second half, creating numerous chances without finishing off last season’s Isthmian League Division One South champions.

Dixon gave the ball away inside the Folkestone half and Heard released Taylor down the right and he teed up the ball for Draycott, who hit a low first time shot from 18-yards straight at keeper Mattie Pierson, who made a comfortable save after two minutes and 38 seconds.

Edge said: “I think sometimes after the Leiston journey, I don’t want to give the lads any excuses despite the fact that we won 5-1 (on Saturday). It was a hurricane and it takes a bit out of you. Sometimes it takes 45 minutes to snap out of it. As long as you’re not behind or not in trouble, I thought the lads listened to what we had to say and put it into action.”

“Draycott scores loads of goals, he’s a good finisher. He kind of surprised me, he snatched at it. He had a lot of time, the move was really good. I think it was Heard played it into Joe who flicked it around the corner and I think Draycott had more time than he thought and it was a snap shot and it went straight into the goalkeeper’s hands.”

That set the tone as left-back Blanks released Heard down the left channel and his cross was smacked on the volley by Draycott from 10-yards, which cleared the crossbar.

“That was a tougher one but a lovely move orchestrated by Heard. Another day, everything that goes to Draycott, this is where you’re spoilt really, he’s such a good finisher but you just expect more.”

O’Neill had a poor night and he picked up his second yellow card with the clock showing nine minutes and 12 seconds after fouling Hasler, who ran with the ball towards the edge of the box.

Pierson made a comfortable save from Draycott’s resulting drilled free-kick from 25-yards.

“The thing is in modern football that lad could argue he didn’t really do a lot to be honest,” said Edge.

“He’s broken through, he takes him down, slight knock, no real malice in it but The Law sees it he’s prevented a goalscoring opportunity and second yellow card and off you go!

Wilson made a change immediately, sacrificing Cunningham and bringing on Danny Bassett, who played wide on the right.

Hasler lost the ball to Spencer, who cut into the box and his deflected angled drive flashed into the side netting.

Folkestone Invicta sealed the victory, courtesy of Davies’ second goal of the season which was timed at 18 minutes and 43 seconds.

Heard swung in their fifth corner, from the left, towards the near post and Davies made space to glance his header across the face of the goal, sailing into the top far corner of the net.

Edge revealed: “Really pleasing!  We had a chat about our set-pieces recently and identified that we were a little obvious so we worked a little bit on delivery and timing. Heard’s ball was fantastic, Callum’s timing was excellent and the finish, well the keeper had no chance!”

Draycott, Taylor and Heard linked up to set up Draycott, whose low left-footed drive from 20-yards zipped off the wet pitch to flash just past the post.

But Tooting & Mitcham United went agonisingly close to grabbing the equaliser in the 69th minute.

Spencer threw the ball to McNaughton, who powered his header forward and Dixon let the ball roll across him, cutting inside Matthew Newman, before drilling a left-footed drive from 20-yards across the goal, bouncing once as it flashed just past the foot of the far post.

“That’s the thing, he was a handful all night, kind of on his own a bit,” Edge said of Dixon.

“He had us pinned, it’s a lottery. I think he’ll probably admit it he swivels on it and he hits it too well and it just flies past the post but leads can be lost that quickly can’t they?”

Heard played the ball in from the right, the ball was flicked on by Draycott and Taylor was denied by a great, brave save from Pierson, low to his right.

“The keeper made a great save off Joe, he’s tried to read it, he’s thrown his whole body at it and managed to save it,” said Edge. 

“I thought the keeper done well for them when they became under pressure and I think after that pressure period where we could’ve scored two or three we kind of lost our way on how to beat ten men and kind of given them a bit too much space at certain times and that caused ourselves problems.”

Hasler swung in a free-kick from the right which was met inside a crowded penalty area by Vincent, which sailed straight into Pierson’s gloves for a comfortable catch inside the final 10 minutes.  Vincent then advanced down the right with the ball and his cross-come-shot from a long way out was held by the goalkeeper at his near post.

It was one of those games where you expected a last-gasp Tooting & Mitcham equaliser.

Edge said: “It was frustrating but when you’ve got the goal you just want to prevent them from having any chances. Alright, we missed chances, we didn’t want to rue those chances but the fact they had two or three good chances in the end, I mean the goalkeeper nearly scored at the end, is the thing we need to focus and do a little bit better on.”

Tooting & Mitcham substitute Jordan Wilson swung in a free-kick from the left touchline but McNaughton glanced his header past the far post from 20-yards.

All 22 players were in the final third by the time that Morgan-Griffiths delivered a deep free-kick into the Folkestone box from the left touch-line.  Tooting & Mitcham United goalkeeper Pierson found himself at the far post unmarked and sent his diving header past the near post from eight-yards.

“They threw another body up there and it’s very strange,” explained Edge.

“We had to get everybody back and the worst thing is when they have forwards and sometimes attacking midfielders that come back, they pick a man up and they think their job is done and then the goalkeeper has come across, a free header and luckily for us I think he had his eyes closed!”

Folkestone Invicta are in seventh-place and are now only four points behind third-placed Billericay Town, who have a couple of games in hand and have a playing budget of over thirty grand a week!

Folkestone Invicta are 10 points behind new league leaders Dulwich Hamlet but the Kent coast club have three games in hand.

“We’ve started the season well,” said Edge.

“Cugs has brought some new bodies in that have given the club a little bit more life. We’ve pretty much worked with the same people. We’ve still got the core but people have come in – Callum Davies has started to play a bit more and he’s doing better. 

“The lads who we had last year are starting to learn and do what we ask and new additions, the likes of Ade Yusuff, Scott Heard and Kieron McCann have come in and made us better and they’ve given us a bit more belief sand I think it’s showing.

“I wouldn’t buy a we’re going up scarf just yet!  There’s a lot of work to do.  There’s some good sides in this and as the league shows anyone can beat anyone.  You just have to be focused, together and you will win more than you lose and that’s what we’re aiming for.”

When asked what has changed, Edge replied: “Our kit! A winning mentality!  They’re here to win. They’re here to do something in the game. I’m not saying we didn’t have that last year but I feel we’ve got more characters willing to voice their opinion, motivate others and not accept losing and it’s working for us.”

Edge praised the travelling fans who made the trip, saying, “The boys who travel away from Folkestone are class!  We speak to the majority of them on the coach win, lose or draw.  They support us and without it we’ll be a worse club so it’s great, they always get behind us and cheer us on.”

Tooting & Mitcham United:  Mattie Pierson, Eddie Dines, Peter Wedgeworth (Joseph Debayo 84), Dominic Morgan-Griffiths, Callum McNaughton, Quincy Rowe, Juevan Spencer, Chace O’Neill, Michael Dixon, Sandy Cunningham (Danny Bassett 59), Danny Clements (Jordan Wilson 72).
Subs: Nathan Corkery, Tenny Adebowale

Booked: Eddie Dines 13, Quincy Rowe 28, Chace O’Neill 47

Sent Off: Chace O’Neill 55

Folkestone Invicta: Tim Roberts, Josh Vincent, Nathaniel Blanks, Micheal Everitt, Callum Davies,  Matthew Newman, Scott Heard, Sam Hasler (Ryan Cooper 90), Ian Draycott, Joe Taylor, Kieron McCann (Jordan Wright 88).
Subs: Ethan Madden, Nick Shaw

Goal: Callum Davies 64

Booked: Joe Taylor 28, Micheal Everitt 90

Attendance: 222
Referee: Mr Bhupinder Gill (Iver, Buckinghamshire)
Assistants: Mr Michael Hayden (Epsom, Surrey) & Mr Tom Simmons (Shepperton, Middlesex)

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