Thursday 01st September 2005

End of a dream for Folkestone

Folkestone Invicta 1-3 Stevenage Borough
FA Trophy Third Round
Saturday 10 January 2004
by Richard Murrill

Folkestone Invicta’s big day ended in honourable defeat as they went down 3-1 at home to Nationwide conference club Stevenage Borough in front of a 912 crowd in Saturday’s F. A. Trophy Third Round tie at the Westbourne Stadium.

It brought to an end Invicta’s 15-match unbeaten run as they equalled their best ever run in the country’s premier non-league knockout competition.

Stevenage are one of the biggest names in non-league football and their vocal travelling support made for a big match atmosphere as the Hertfordshire club embarked on what they hope will be a return visit to Villa Park after finishing runners up to Yeovil Town in 2002.

Graham Westley’s side ultimately had too much for Invicta and although the visitors have a major injury crisis of their own, including leading marksman Anthony Elding, they do have a far bigger squad than the Folkestone club.

The home side were dealt a massive, if not totally unexpected, blow before kick off when top goalscorer Allan Tait failed a fitness test on his injured hamstring. His presence would have been of great benefit to this encounter.

As it was, the home side held out until the 44th minute when Jon BRADY opened the scoring at the far post when a cross from the left went right across the Invicta goal.

The visitors increased their lead after 59 minutes when striker Dino MAAMRIA volleyed home after the ball had been played across from the left.

Invicta were thrown a lifeline after 73 minutes when substitute Martin Chandler’s excellent cross from the left was headed in by midfielder Mark MUNDAY.

But any hopes of an Invicta comeback were nipped in the bud when Stevenage substitute Justin RICHARDS rifled in a superb low shot from just outside the penalty area after 75 minutes.

Big former West Brom and Bristol Rovers striker Richards had only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes and made an immediate impact.

Brady had shot wide for Stevenage after 13 minutes with the game’s first real chance after 13 minutes, while at the other end former Sunderland and Newcastle goalkeeper Lionel Perez saved from James Millar a minute later when John Ayling threaded the ball through in a move started by Paul Lamb.

Gary Holloway shot wide with a clear chance for Stevenage after 29 minutes when former Dover Athletic playmaker Simon Wormull put him through and Holloway headed over from Michael Warner’s right wing cross after 32 minutes.

Striker Tony Battersby headed at Invicta goalkeeper Tony Kessell after 37 minutes when Warner found Brady down the right flank.

Brady’s goal was a blow for Invicta just before half time and Jamie Cook blasted over with another chance for Stevenage after 44 minutes when the influential Brady’s right wing cross fell to him at the far post.

The second half started with chances at both ends. Invicta centre half John Guest cleared off the line from Maamria in the 47th minute when the Tunisian-born striker went round goalkeeper Kessell after capitalising on a stray back pass.

At the other end, striker James Dryden shot over after a one-two with Tim Hambley a minute later.

Stevenage’s second goal left Invicta facing a daunting final half hour and the home side replaced Drew Watkins and Millar with Chandler and Anthony Hogg after 63 minutes.

Munday’s goal gave Invicta reward for a spirited second half performance, but Richards was to make a telling contribution for Stevenage.

Holloway missed another chance when he shot over after 78 minutes following a dangerous low cross from the right.

Invicta kept going until the end and Hogg’s injury time shot hit French goalkeeper Perez and went over the crossbar for a corner after a low ball in from the right.

There were bookings for Invicta’s Munday, captain Scott Lindsey, Watkins and Hambley and for Stevenage’s Steve Watson.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Kessell, Watkins (Chandler 63 mins), Lamb, Flanagan, Guest, Lindsey (Blackman 86 mins), Hambley, Munday, Dryden, Ayling, Millar (Hogg 63 mins).  Unused subs: Everitt, Egan.

STEVENAGE BOROUGH: Perez, Smith, Warner, Gould, Wormull, Watson, Brady, Holloway, Cook, Battersby (Richards 73 mins), Maamria. Unused subs: Westhead, St Ledger, Flack, Scott.

Attendance: 912.