Folkestone Invicta 2-3 Eastleigh - The crowd must’ve gone away and thought they got their monies worth and they got every ounce of effort out of every single player that played, says proud Folkestone Invicta player-coach Micheal Everitt
Folkestone Invicta 2 – 3 Eastleigh
|Location||Cheriton Road, Folkestone, Kent CT19 5JU|
FOLKESTONE INVICTA 2-3 EASTLEIGH
(after extra time)
The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round Replay
Tuesday 19 October 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Cheriton Road
FOLKESTONE INVICTA player-coach Micheal Everitt says his players gave every ounce of effort during this FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round Replay extra-time defeat to Eastleigh.
Neil Cugley’s side raced into a 3-0 lead inside the opening 18 minutes against their full-time hosts at the weekend, but Ben Strevens’ side forced a replay at Cheriton Road tonight, courtesy of Christian Maghoma’s last-gasp leveller in Hampshire.
Folkestone Invicta went into tonight’s replay in sixth-place in the Isthmian League Premier Division table with 18 points from eight games, while Eastleigh have collected 12 points from 10 games and arrived at Cheriton Road in thirteenth-place in the Vanarama National League table, two levels above their opponents.
Eastleigh took the lead through Tom Whelan’s volley in the 24th minute and Folkestone Invicta lost centre-half Josh Vincent to a second bookable offence nine minutes into the second half and Eastleigh doubled their lead through winger Jake Hesketh.
However, Folkestone Invicta showed character and desire to take the game into extra-time as striker Ade Yusuff smashed in his sixth-goal of the season before midfielder Scott Heard’s sublime finish levelled proceedings in front of a proud crowd of 1,237.
Eastleigh sealed a trip to their league rivals Boreham Wood in the First Round when striker Ben House volleyed in his fifth goal of the season with six minutes of extra-time remaining to inflict Folkestone Invicta’s first defeat in 13 games.
“I feel absolutely gutted for the boys,” said Everitt, who was sent out for the post-match interview by Cugley, who has been in charge at Cheriton Road for 25 years.
“From being 2-0 down with 10 men, everything’s gone against you and those 50-50 decisions that the referee has to make, they go against you and to have that resilience and that effort and desire to get back into the game, we’re just really proud of everybody, even the lads who came on and the starting eleven, it was just a magnificent effort.
“The players’ gave us a sense that we have got a really good squad here that have all pulled together in the same direction and I’m sure that if we play like that against other teams in our league we’re going to be successful and that’s what we’ve got to strive for.
“I thought the boys were magnificent, they ran themselves into the ground and they deserve all the plaudits they get.”
Folkestone Invicta beat Corinthian (3-2), Ashford Town Middlesex (7-2) and Gloucester City (1-0), to reach this stage of the competition - and started tonight’s game on the front foot.
Ronnie Dolan’s left-wing corner was cleared out to right-wing-back Jordan Wright, whose initial first touch was poor but his second one was drilled harmlessly wide of the target from 30-yards inside the opening six minutes.
“We have started very well in games recently hence being 3-0 up on Saturday, so it wasn’t a surprise to us. We felt that we owed them one really,” said Everitt.
“Even on Saturday, we had a lot of good chances whilst we went 3-0 up, it went 3-2 and we had a couple of chances at 3-2 to finish the game at 4-2 and didn’t quite make it and they went up the other end and scored, so talking about those 50-50 things in another game, we get that goal and it’s game over and we win and we’re in the next round of The FA Cup.”
The game then turned cagey with Eastleigh’s first chance arriving in the 19th minute.
Callum Davies, who plays in the centre of a three-man defence, gave the ball away to Eastleigh’s central midfielder Cav Miley, who was pressing him, and striker Tyrone Barnett’s right-footed drive from 25-yards was comfortably held by Alexis Andre, smothering the ball low to his right.
Yusuff motored down the left and after a few step-overs, he crossed the ball into the Eastleigh box where Heard’s free-header at the near post bounced wide.
“I thought Ade was a thorn in their side for the majority of the game. I think they were very aware of that,” said Everitt.
“He provides that energy, raw effort and determination. I thought he gave a real tough game after two games and I’m sure they’re going to feel relieved that they don’t have to see him again.”
However, Eastleigh grabbed the lead in the 24th minute.
Josh Hare, Whelan and Hesketh linked up before House rolled the ball over to left-wing-back Vincent Harper, who whipped in a great cross for Whelan to volley across the keeper and into the far corner from 10-yards.
“That was a well-worked goal,” said Everitt.
“We really restricted them to very few clear-cut chances at that time so it sort of came out of the blue. Maybe we were a little bit narrow, they got it out wide and he’s hit a good cross, to be fair to the lad. I think Vincent Harper is a very good player.
“Jordan Wright was another one who was magnificent tonight, over the two games he did well on him (Harper).”
Fourth official Peter Conn replaced referee Robert Whitton in the 32nd minute and Eastleigh almost doubled their lead through an own-goal following a set-piece.
Whelan whipped in a corner from the left towards the near post and Davies’ flicked header flashed across his own goalkeeper and past the far post.
Folkestone Invicta came within inches of levelling proceedings on the stroke of half-time.
Dolan and Heard linked up well in midfield and the ball was worked out to Yusuff, who cut inside on the right-hand side and flashed his low angled drive across the keeper and flashing just past the foot of the far post, narrowly missing the big toe of his strike partner David Smith at the near post.
“We were talking about Ade trying to get side on and actually running forward as he received the ball so he was always running towards the goal and that was a good example of it,” said Everitt.
“As soon as he got it facing the defender on the back-foot, they can’t deal with him and it was a great ball in and Smithy made a great run. It’s such a shame those little bits of movements can change a game. Smithy didn’t quite get on it but a brilliant bit of football leading up to that.”
Everitt added: “At half-time just felt we could keep the ball slightly better and got the ball with a little bit more quality up to the front boys because soon as it went up to the front boys they looked lively. They were going to cause problems and I thought we did that and obviously, the red card changed the game.”
Folkestone Invicta left-wing-back Alfie Paxman was a threat and he unleashed a left-footed angled drive flashing across the keeper and past the far post from 30-yards inside the opening six minutes of the second half.
Everitt said: “Pax has been playing really well for the last two or three weeks and it’s no surprise he was running at their wing-back. He’s a real big part of our creative side of our team and he’s in top form at the moment and we want to keep him there.”
However, Folkestone Invicta faced a mountain to climb when stand-in referee Peter Conn gave Vincent his marching orders after a clumsy challenge on Hesketh in an attempt to cut out a ball over the top in the 54th minute.
Everitt said: “I think JV was incredibly unlucky to be sent-off today, I think it was harsh. It’s one of those decisions. He hasn’t meant to deliberately kick him, he’s (Vincent) gone across him, he’s (Hesketh) gone down. I don’t even know if the ball actually went anywhere near him. The ball wasn’t even in his direction and he’s gone down and the referee’s not only stopped it for a free-kick, he’s booked him and sent him off.
“I feel sorry for JV really. He’s been sent off in a game that he wants to be a part of and it sort of changed the game.”
Andre, who made his debut for Folkestone Invicta in the last round win over Vanarama National League North side Gloucester City, pulled off a fine save shortly afterwards.
Hesketh and Whelan linked up before working the ball to House, whose left-footed drive from 25-yards was tipped around the post by Andre, diving to his left.
“The last few games, he has been really safe so I come to expect that,” Everitt said of keeper Andre.
Folkestone Invicta immediately went up the other end and just 73 seconds later the impressive Paxman played the ball inside to Yusuff, whose first-time shot was comfortably saved by visiting keeper Joe McDonnell.
However, Eastleigh doubled their lead in the 58th minute, courtesy of a clinical strike from Hesketh.
Towering centre-half Maghoma played the ball out to House on the left and he whipped in a cross towards the far post and Hesketh cut inside his man before drilling his left-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner from just inside the box.
“Obviously, they play in the National League. Just like we thought they would, a very clinical finish. You can’t point the finger at the goalkeeper for not saving it, so let’s give them a bit of credit, they are a National League side and they had moments when they definitely showed that,” said Everitt.
Folkestone Invicta showed great character and pulled a goal back just five minutes later.
Paxman threw the ball to Smith, who wriggled his way past a couple of Eastleigh defenders inside the box and put it on a plate for Yusuff, who nipped in front of his marker (Tom Broadbent) at the far post to slam the ball into the back of the net from a couple of yards out to bring back the belief both on and off the pitch.
“I thought we showed real desire, real desire with 10 men. I think we had three in the box when Paxman’s crossing it. You’ve got to give credit to the team for not giving up,” added Everitt.
“I spoke to Cugs before the game and said ‘the players always enjoy playing in this stadium on a Tuesday night.’
“We talked about playing against Leatherhead in a semi-final of a play-off and being 2-0 down and we came back and won that one on penalties.
“It’s credit to the boys they just did not give up. We tweaked the system slightly and it seemed to work. Once we got the first goal, the first goal gave us belief that we could go on and get something out of the game.”
Eastleigh were awarded a free-kick just on the edge of the penalty area on the right-hand side and Whelan’s delivery was met by a striker who was playing in the Scottish Premiership for relegated Kilmarnock last season, but Danny Whitehall steered his towering header over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.
Eastleigh enjoyed plenty of possession as Folkestone Invicta kept their opponents at bay, helped by some poor finishing at times.
However, Cugley’s men grabbed an equaliser in the 78th minute, courtesy of a sublime finish from midfielder Heard.
Eastleigh had dealt with the initial set-piece before defender Ryan Johnson played the ball in from the left and centre-half Matthew Newman played a ball over the top of the defence from the middle of the park and Heard flicked his shot across the keeper and into the far corner from close to the penalty spot.
“It was a fantastic and unbelievable ball by Matt Newman and we’ve come to expect that. He’s so cultured on the ball, he’s very comfortable. He receives it in tight areas, he’s very calm and to be fair to Scott, I think he covered every blade of grass tonight, a bit like a few of the others and it was a magnificent effort and a great effort,” added Everitt.
However, Eastleigh threw caution to the wind for the remainder of the game.
Harper, substitute Whitehall and Whelan linked up and played House through on goal but Andre rushed off his line and smothered the shot low to his left in the 81st minute.
The former Bristol Rovers goalkeeper was training at National League strugglers Dover Athletic before signing for Folkestone Invicta.
Everitt said: “It was an interesting one when he trained, the first session, we remember talking to (Dover Athletic manager) Andy Hessenthaler and he turned round and said ‘he was so good on one-on-ones’ and we were doing some shooting in training and it was all one-v-ones and he’s such a big lad, he’s incredibly hard to beat. It was a great save at a really important time for us, brilliant.”
Eastleigh displayed some patient build-up, stretching the play often, and used the flanks to create the space and right-wing-back Josh Hare crossed the ball in but Whitehall’s downward header from inside the six-yard box was comfortably gathered by Andre, before substitute midfielder Harry Pritchard stroked his shot just past the left-hand post.
Folkestone Invicta hit Eastleigh on the counter-attack inside the final couple of minutes of normal time.
Paxman hit a first-time diagonal over to Yusuff over on the right and he floated in a deep cross towards the far post but Paxman headed down and past the left-post.
Eastleigh immediately went up the other end and just 33 seconds later, Hare delivered a deep cross for substitute Ryan Hill, who took a touch before lashing his shot over the crossbar.
Eastleigh continued to press and hit the home side on the counter-attack as a jumping Paxman couldn’t reach Dolan’s deep cross and Eastleigh broke away.
Seconds later, Whelan played the ball out to Hill, who whipped in a low cross for Pritchard, who placed his first-time shot past the right-hand post, but neither side could find the winner going into extra-time.
“We just wanted to create that one chance and that one moment and to be fair the lads kept plugging, plugging and plugging and we sort of had half-chances not even that and I did feel if we had a genuine chance, we would be clinical and put it away,” said Everitt.
Eastleigh squandered a glorious chance to seal the deal inside the opening five minutes of extra-time.
Hare delivered the ball in from the right, keeper Andre used both of his outstretched arms to punch the ball away but Whelan lashed his volley over the crossbar with his right-boot from the edge of the box.
Folkestone Invicta created an opening just 59 seconds later when Paxman’s cross from the left was struck by Wright, his shot taking a deflection as it sailed over McDonnell’s crossbar.
Folkestone’s threatening striker, Yusuff, was handed a golden chance to snatch the victory at the end of a counter-attack.
Paxman fed substitute Ian Draycott and he played the ball into Yusuff, who scuffed his right-footed shot straight at McDonnell, who comfortably gathered at his near post.
Everitt said: “I don’t think you can point the finger at Ade for scuffing it because they all run themselves into the ground and you’ve got to realise they’re a National League side with an extra player.
“The lads have worked all week, working today and came straight to the game and Eastleigh have been preparing for this game.”
Maghome clipped the ball down the line to release Hill down the right and he cut the ball back for Whelan, who swept his first-time shot towards the top far corner, forcing Andre to pull off a brilliant diving save high to his right to push the ball around the post.
“He’s been really impressive since he’s been with us. We’ve got three good goalkeepers (Tim Roberts and Connor Collins) so there’s definitely competition for players but he’s done really well since he’s come in so real credit to him,” added Everitt.
Eastleigh continued to knock on the door with Folkestone Invicta’s players putting everything into the game.
Hesketh released House into the penalty area and after beating a couple of defenders rolled his shot straight into the grateful gloves of the Folkestone keeper.
Eastleigh’s relentless pressure and possession paid off, however, as they broke Folkestone Invicta’s hearts with a winner six minutes from the end of the game.
Hare delivered a deep cross from the right and House got in behind the centre-halves to place his right-footed volley across the flat-footed keeper to bounce into the bottom far corner from eight-yards.
Everitt added: “It’s something that we identified before the game. We know Josh Hare, I played with him before, we know he’s got a very good right foot but it was a ball into the box that we didn’t deal with.
“It’s such a shame because we worked so hard, we probably deserved to go to penalties and have a chance with that but it wasn’t to be.”
Folkestone Invicta play 11 games between Saturday and the end of November, starting with a home clash against third-placed Kingstonian.
Hayden Bird’s side have collected 22 points from 11 games, a point behind leaders Enfield Town.
“The crowd must’ve gone away and thought they got their monies worth and they got every ounce of effort out of every single player that played,” said Everitt.
“We lift our heads up high and we focus on Kingstonian now. The next game is the most important one and Kingstonian are up there and are a very good side. Hayden Bird will have them playing in a certain way and we’ve got to be prepared for that but if we play like we did today, we’ve got to go with confidence.”
When asked whether he’s got a message for the fans, Everitt replied: “Come Saturday! That’s the message, come Saturday! We need you. You’ve seen if you get behind us the lads will give you absolutely everything and every single one of them did today.
“The league is our bread and butter, that’s what we want to do well in. The FA Cup is a bonus. We’ve had a good run and played really well but the league is the most important thing to us. We want to progress and be right up there and performances like tonight really help. It will give us confidence to know that we’re pulling in the right direction.
“We’ve got a really tough run of games in November. We’ve got a great squad, competition for places and we’ve got to take tonight’s performance into Saturday.”
Folkestone Invicta: Alexis Andre, Jordan Wright (Ollie Freeman 113), Alfie Paxman, Callum Davies, Matthew Newman, Josh Vincent, Scott Heard, Ryan Johnson (Tyler Sterling 119), David Smith (Ian Draycott 82), Ade Yusuff, Ronnie Dolan.
Subs: Finn O’Mara, Connor Collins, Kieron McCann, Micheal Everitt
Goals: Ade Yusuff 63, Scott Heard 78
Booked: Ronnie Dolan 18, Josh Vincent 48, Callum Davies 120
Sent Off: Josh Vincent 54
Eastleigh: Joe McDonnell, Josh Hare, Vincent Harper, Andrew Boyce, Tom Broadbent (Ryan Hill 85), Christian Maghoma, Jake Hesketh (Harry Pritchard 75), Cav Miley (Danny Hollands 118), Tyrone Barnett (Danny Whitehall 61), Tom Whelan.
Subs: Michael Kelly, Sam Smart, Ross Flitney
Goals: Tom Whelan 24, Jake Hesketh 58, Ben House 114
Booked: Josh Hare 45, Cav Miley 68, Vincent Harper 81, Tom Whelan 87
Referee: Mr Robert Whitton
Assistants: Mr Gary Jerden & Mr Jack Fagg
Fourth Official: Mr Peter Conn