To sponsor our MATCH OF THE DAY
|Bank Holiday Monday, 27th December 2004||Ryman League
|Stephen McCartney reports from Westbourne Stadium|
|Folkestone Invicta||1||John Guest 57|
Guest settles big local derby
JOHN GUEST netted his third goal of the season to secure Folkestone Invicta's first ever league victory over local rivals Dover Athletic at a packed and noisy Westbourne Stadium today.
A superb crowd of 2,278 saw the home side clinch the victory and the local bragging rights and pile more misery on relegation threatened Dover - now without a win in eight league games.
But it all looked so promising
for Dover, playing some attractive football and creating a whole host of
chances, without really testing Invicta goalkeeper Tony Kessell, to end their
Folkestone, however, have now kept five clean sheets in their last seven competitive games and have only lost once after signing striker Paul Sykes from Southern Leaguers Dartford.
Dover fans were probably thinking the worse as both sides went in on level terms at the break. With all the possession and chances created, they were thinking Folkestone would have one shot on goal and score from it.
And this came true, twelve minutes after the break when Neil Cugley's side scored the winning goal from their first shot on target.
would have been a mere consolation for Invicta had Steve Browne's side took at
least one of their many openings in the first half.
After only nine minutes, Warren Ryan sent a shot from 17-yards high into the sky but his skipper and Dover boy Craig Cloke was the man that seemed to care about his home town club's predicament.
After 17 minutes he received a free kick out on the left, played square by Stuart Maynard, but his right-footed drilled effort went wide.
After Ryan's swung in cross from the left dropped just over Kessell's near post, giant defender Jude Stirling - the former Luton Town defender was making his Dover debut - met Maynard's free kick but his header floated agonisingly across goal.
The first real save of the game was made by Kessell in the 37th minute when he got down low to his left to keep out Dean Palmer's low scissor kick following Victor Renner's cross from the right.
Another chance came Dover's way seconds later. Ryan's cross was met by a diving header from Chris Wright but the ball floated wide of the far post, leaving Dover fans and the striker holding their heads in their hands and looking up into the sky for inspiration.
Folkestone, however, weathered the storm, and were pleased to be going in at the break on level terms.
The Folkestone end, however, erupted when they took the lead, leaving Dover fans stunned and thinking "hear we go again!"
One shot, one goal - the story of their campaign so far. Surely the Hoverspeed Stadium outfit will have better luck in 2005.
Sykes captalised on a costly mistake from Palmer on the right hand side, received the ball in space and from inside the penalty area he pulled the trigger. However, the 28-year-old shanked his shot across the face of goal but the ball fell nicely for Guest to fire home.
After 66 minutes Paul Lamb's free kick was met at the far post by hero Guest, but this time he was off target, and at the other end, two minutes later, Renner's right-footed 25-yard shot flew high over Kessell's goal.
Cloke twice went close to give the club's long suffering fans something to be pleased about - having seen the club slump from second in the Conference to the brink of Ryman League Division One football for next season.
Folkestone, however, had a good spell towards the end with striker James Dryden missing a golden chance to wrap up the victory, dragging a shot agonisingly wide of the far post and in the last minute he drove a hard but low shot towards the bottom far corner of the net but was denied by a fine save from French stopper Dominic Jean-Zepherin - his first real save of the game.
Delighted Invicta fans chanted "cheerio, cheerio, cheerio" to the departing away fans. Dover might be saying goodbye to Ryman Premier Division football if they don't start winning matches - and quickly!
Folkestone boss Cugley, however, was pleased his side beat their local rivals, but wants to see them again next season.
"They're such a big club, there's no doubt about that, they're a huge club and it will all come out in the wash, I'm sure it will," he said.
"They will come back stronger - sometimes you have to accept that you might get relegated but I think they will come back because they are a big, big club.
"It's nice to beat them, I can't deny that - it would be nice to play and beat them again (next season)."
Although they collected three precious points, Cugley would have liked to see his side play better football.
"We weren't very good first half, I've got to be honest with that but in the second half their goalkeeper was busier than ours." he said.
"We've got such a good defence at the moment, we always think we can win games.
"It's important to get a goal upfront and that's what we done."
With an average crowd of just over 300 in all matches at home this season, Cugley is hoping some of today's fans come back for more.
"I think they are seeing what we are doing at the club and that's trying to keep progressing.
"It's amazing how far we've come - you've got to remember we were in the Kent League 6-7 years ago and people start to forget that.
"We are one of the better sides in Kent - there's only Gravesend, Margate and Welling United above us now. Hopefully we can start chasing them.
"We've had a good little run recently and it will be good to get something out from Windsor away on Saturday.
"After that performance today, next home game we want to put on a better footballing show."
Dover boss Browne admitted it's time to turn performances into wins.
"It's been the same story since I've been here. I thought there was only one team in it during the first half and to be fair we were sloppy and poor in the second half," the former Hemel Hempstead manager said.
"I think we had a lot of possession and a couple of half chances but looking back we didn't really work their goalkeeper (Tony Kessell) but we had a lot of possession and should have been one or two up at least.
"I think we murdered them for football and we ended up losing the game.
"That's what I'm disappointed with. In the second half we tried to go long all the time, we were giving the ball away cheaply."
Browne, however, admitted he wouldn't change any of his players for men wearing amber and black striped shirts.
"If I would rather me in their dressing room than ours? I wouldn't!
"I would rather be in ours. As we are a better footballing side, we need a little bit more about us when the chips are going down - that's what I have to look at.
"I've tried this week to bring other people in.
"Unfortunately people have been reading our website and thinking it's a club in crisis and other bits are coming out about my job. I've got to get on with the job in hand.
"We need players that are going to play for 90 minutes not 45.
"Since I've taken over at the club I've not seen a better team than us with the way we play football.
"I'm tired of saying how well we've played. People have told me it will come.
"It's got to come, we can't keep talking about it. Actions speak louder than words!"
Both sets of fans were credit to their clubs, with their vocal and numeric support and Browne added: "I've got no complaints about the supporters - they've been fantastic since I've been here.
"They are very disappointed - but on-one is more disappointed than me at this moment."
Dover's loyal fans walked from the Hoverspeed Stadium to Cheriton Road to raise money for the club they love.
Now they have aching hearts as well as aching feet.
Folkestone Invicta: Tony Kessell, Paul Lamb, Steve
Norman, Adam Flanagan, John Guest, Scott Lindsey (Capt), Michael Everitt, Mark
Munday (John Walker 46), James Dryden, Paul Sykes (Joe Neilson 83), Andrew
Burke. Subs: James Everitt, Luke Coleman, Dan Morrin
Dover Athletic: Dominic Jean-Zepherin, Craig Cloke (Capt), Nick Grime, Dean Palmer, Jude Stirling, Daniel Braithwaite, Bryan Bubb (Shane Hamshare 83), Stuart Maynard, Chris Wright, Victor Renner, Warren Ryan. Subs: Dean Readings, James Gregory, James Rogers, Paul Rogers
Referee: M Basten (Sevenoaks)
Assistants: P Harris (Maidstone) & I Regan (Ashford)