Thursday 01st September 2005

After hard fought point - Bring on Chester!

Saturday 29th
October 2005
Ryman Premier League Stephen McCartney reports from
Champion Hill
Fisher Athletic 0  
Folkestone Invicta 0  

Folkestone Invicta warmed up for next Saturday's FA Cup first round trip to League Two club Chester City with a hard fought deserved point at Fisher Athletic, writes Stephen McCartney.

With Matt Bower and Kevin Watson playing for the reserves this week, manager Neil Cugley is confident his Ryman Premier League players will enjoy their day out - and even get the result that will grab the national headlines.

Although in the past week they've lost 1-0 at Worthing, thus ending their six game unbeaten run, and secured a deserved point at Champion Hill today, these two tough games have been good preparation for their trip to the Saunders Honda (Deva) Stadium in seven days time.

We all know what a talented side Fisher Athletic are.  Invicta, however, worked hard and had enough second half chances to go on and win the game.  But were rewarded for their graft with a deserved point.

Fisher striker Leroy Griffiths, however,  was a thorn in their side and the former Grays Athletic striker had the first shot on goal - after only 51 seconds - which sailed over from 16 yards.

And Michael Everitt had the first shot on James Pullen's goal after eight minutes but his driven 25-yard effort flew well wide.

Folkestone's strikers Paul Jones (5 goals) and dangerman James Dryden (10) worked hard up front, linking up well on occasions and Dryden's 16th minute header - following Stuart Myall's ball into the penalty area - was comfortably plucked out of the air by the goalkeeper.

Invicta had their 26-year-old goalkeeper, Tony Kessell to thank for making two fine saves denying Charlie Hearn and Hamid Barr in the space of two minutes.

Fisher striker Steve Watts beat the offside flag down the right channel and his cross found the unmarked Hearn but his shot was smothered by the goakeeper, who then got down low to his left to tip Barr's 16-yard shot around the post after the former Tonbridge Angels' player-manager cut in from the left.

But Dryden squandered his side's best chance of the half in the 27th minute.

Latching onto Jones' through ball, the 25-year-old record breaking striker was on-side and after bringing the ball down onto his left foot, his 20-yard drive went agonisinly wide of the foot of the near upright.

Former Welling United striker Anthony Riviere tested Kessell after 37 minutes.  He was forced to cut in from the right to the edge of the penalty area and his stroked shot was pushed around the post by the diving goalkeeper.

Two minutes later, Michael Everitt's shot on the edge of the penalty was a lot nearer than the one earlier in the game but still went wide.

Invicta only had to endure eleven seconds of stoppage time but were very pleased with their first half efforts - but the second half was a different story as they had the confidence to take the game to their hosts.

And after seven minutes of the second half, Dryden, linking up well with Jones again, tested Pullen who had to dive to his left to push the fierce shot around the post.

But Kessell made the save of the match with eight minutes left when he acrobatically tipped Charlie Hearn's swerving 30-yard drive over the bar.

Invicta had two late chances to win the game when Martin Chandler played the ball over the top down the right channel for Dryden and his cross was met at the far post by Jones but his shot from six yards came off the goalkeeper and rolled agonisinly wide of the foot of the post.

And Jones returned the favour a minute later, with a low cross from the left, but Dryden's snap shot from the edge of the box sailed just over.

All in all, a good day for Invicta, and one proud fan shouted out "Bring on Chester!" as his heroes warmed down in the centre circle.

Speaking in the post-match press conference, Invicta boss Neil Cugley told he was pleased with his players efforts in the past week.

"Yes, I was absolutely delighted, I thought we played ever so well," he said.

"I thought we played ever so well down at Worthing to be honest and we were unlucky to lose down there 1-0.

"So in some ways it seems disappointing that we only get a point here after dominating the second half.  I thought we were the better side on the break.

"Obviously Fisher have some really quality players but I thought in the final third we were a lot more dangerous than they were.

"You know when you come here you have to be patient because they are a very, very good side.

"They had a lot of the ball first half and if we can go in with a clean sheet, like we did, we knew chances would come our way and progress, and I think that showed.

"To be honest, we've had two hard games because the Worthing game was very hard as well, and this one too.

"They're two sides I think will definitely both be in the play-off's, and as I say, we played well in both games and you're right it's good preparation for next Saturday's FA Cup game at Chester."

Fisher Athletic: James Pullen, Chris Piper (Capt), Matthew Lovell, Tim Clancy, Francis Duku, Michael Smith, Anthony Riviere, Charlie Hearn, Leroy Griffiths (Lenny Piper 74), Steve Watts, Hamid Barr.  Subs: Ben Walsh, Marcel Nugent, Nicky Davis, Ryan Kirby

Folkestone Invicta: Tony Kessell, James Everitt, Paul Lamb, Adam Flanagan, John Guest, Martin Chandler (Scott Lindsey 85), Michael Everitt (Capt), Stuart Myall, James Dryden, Paul Jones, Steve Norman.  Subs: Kevin Watson, Ben Sly, Matt Hurley (GK)

Attendance:  152
Referee: Mr Mick McCoy (Herne Bay)
Assistants: Mr A Ajibola (Abbey Wood) & Mr C Hatzidakis (Eltham)