Folkestone Invicta 1-0 Gloucester City - I thought we earned the win on a tough day. I thought they gave us everything, I really do, says Folkestone Invicta assistant manager Roland Edge

Saturday 02nd October 2021
Folkestone Invicta 1 – 0 Gloucester City
Location Cheriton Road, Folkestone, Kent CT19 5JU
Kickoff 02/10/2021 15:00

The Emirates FA Cup Third Qualifying Round
Saturday 2 October 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Cheriton Road

FOLKESTONE INVICTA assistant manager Roland Edge says his players gave everything after they pulled off a FA Cup upset to beat full-time outfit Gloucester City, who played with 10 men for 71 minutes.

Neil Cugley has guided the club to The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round for the first time in four seasons, courtesy of striker Ade Yusuff’s fifth goal of the season to settle the tie, which was played in atrocious wet, windy and wild conditions at Cheriton Road.

Interim manager Lee Mansell’s side played good football in his first game in charge after taking over from Paul Groves, who left Gloucester City after their 3-0 defeat at Gateshead last weekend, a result that left them in the bottom two in the Vanarama National League North table with four points from seven games.

Folkestone Invicta extended their unbeaten run to 10 games following their hard-fought balling victory against the elements, 11 games if you include last season’s curtailed campaign.

“It was a typical FA Cup tie when the lower league team gets on the TV and it’s windy, it’s rainy, it’s cold,” said Edge following Folkestone Invicta’s third FA Cup victory of the campaign after beating Corinthian (3-2) and Ashford Town (Middlesex) (7-2).

“It probably didn’t suit them to be fair but it didn’t suit us really and it was down to digging in and I thought we did it well today.

“I think giving them credit, I thought they (Gloucester City) played some excellent football in some terrible conditions.

“I think they actually started to play better when they went down to 10, surprisingly enough. 

“I think it’s that FA Cup thing when you’re playing a team that’s a league below and there’s expectations and they started quite nervy and then the minute they went down to 10 (in the 19th minute), I think they played some really good football, they really stayed in the tie.”

Both sides suffered in the horrible conditions when they won their first set-pieces of the contest as Ronnie Dolan over-hit a free-kick some 35-yards from goal which bounced harmlessly wide of the far post before Gloucester City’s holding midfielder Kevin Dawson’s attempt caught the wind and drifted past the near post at the other end.

“We didn’t really use the conditions to our benefit in the first half,” admitted Edge.

“I thought we played silly passes that were always going to run off but in reflection now, looking at them and they were a good footballing side, it was so hard to keep the ball on the pitch.  The slightest miss-judgement of pace on the pass or direction it was just going off the pitch.”

However, Folkestone Invicta started the game on the front foot against higher-league opposition and could have scored on 10 minutes.

Right-wing-back Jordan Wright cut inside and played the ball inside to Dolan, who teed up Yusuff, who took a touch and drilled his left-footed shot screaming past the top of the left-hand post from 25-yards.

Edge said: “Ade was really sharp today. In those passages of play he created it well. Ade got himself a little bit of space, he turned the guy great and he let fly with his left foot and I honestly thought it was going in but it just went past the post but it was a good bit of play.”

Gloucester City goalkeeper Jake Cole was kicking into the blustery conditions during the first half and most of his clearances went into touch.

Cole, however, was forced into pushing away a couple of decent deliveries from central midfielder Dolan and left-wing-back Alfie Paxman, sandwiched by Yusuff’s attempt on goal.

Ryan Johnson, who played on the right of Folkestone Invicta’s three-man defence, clipped a long ball, which should have been headed away by Gloucester City’s centre-half Tom Harrison.

However, Harrison and fellow centre-half Jordan Thompson got in each other’s way in the right-back position and opened the gate for Yusuff to latch onto the ball and charge towards the penalty area down the heart of the pitch.

Thompson had no choice but to pull back Yusuff inside the D and referee Tom Danaher had no option but to pull out the red-card in the 19th minute of the game.

“I thought we were really in control. I don’t ever like to see it go down to against 10 but even in the rules the lad had to go and I think it kind of inspired them a little bit,” said Edge, failing to acknowledge that it should be Laws and not rules.

“It was a clear red card. I mean the ball goes up and it’s swirling. One minute you thought you had the wind with you, the next minute it was against you. A little bit of a lack of communication with their two centre-halves and then Ade was clean though.  They were never catching him and the guy made the decision to pull him down in the spur of the moment decision and we had a go and we scored virtually straight afterwards.”

Folkestone Invicta wasted the chance from the resulting free-kick as striker David Smith’s poor free-kick was deflected behind for a corner and Folkestone Invicta scored the winning goal following their fourth corner of the game with 21 minutes and 16 seconds on the clock.

Paxman swung the ball in from the right and Cole failed to demand his six-yard box and Yusuff slid in front of his man to poke the ball into the bottom right-hand corner from a couple of yards out to give Cugley’s men a deserved lead.

“Well, we said before the game it’s one of those, the team that makes the least mistakes are going to win, I know most games are like that,” said Edge.

“But when they were doing crossing before the game it was like you’re hitting a wall of air was just dropping straight down.

“Credit to Ade, you always tell your forwards to get across the keeper and he’s done that and he’s got us the goal and a win.”

Reflecting on Yusuff’s five-goal haul so far this season, Edge replied: “He’s better than that Ade really because I think he’s a man that judges himself on goals.

“But I think he’s just been a thorn in everybody’s side that we’ve played against, whether he’s scored or not. He’s put it on the plate for David Smith a couple of times but he just causes a load of trouble, both of them have been hard work for the teams, so even if they don’t score they’ve given us so much more than that anyway.”

Gloucester City went with three men at the back with Dawson slotting in on the right, with Daniel Leadbitter moving from right-back into middle centre-half with Harrison on the left hand side.

Gloucester City were the better side after the half-an-hour mark and started to play an attractive brand of football on the deck without threatening Folkestone Invicta’s debutant goalkeeper, Frenchman Alexis Andre, 24.

Andre received a slice of luck, however, in the 36th minute as he was rooted to the spot after winger Jordan Young swung in the away side’s fourth corner of the game from the right, which curled around the foot of the far post with the goalkeeper struggling on his goal-line.

Left-winger Lucas Tomlinson, who was making his Gloucester City debut, having joined on loan from Bristol Rovers, cut into the box and his cross-shot was well held by Andre, smothering the ball low to his left.

“Look, they really rolled their sleeves up,” said Edge.

“They started to move the ball really well but I thought we defended so well that the majority of their chances came from crosses.  On a day like today, it’s so hard to capitalise on a cross and that’s where it broke down for them.”

Gloucester City produced a good move in the 42nd minute when the ball was worked from left to right and Young and Dawson linked up well down the right-channel (where puddles started to form) before Young cut inside and cracked his shot straight into the midriff of the Folkestone Invicta keeper.

Gloucester City should have equalised a couple of minutes later when Dawson (now playing right-wing-back) whipped in a great cross towards the near post but an unmarked Young sent his diving header past the right-hand post from 12-yards.

“It was a little bit behind him, picking up pace with the wind. There wasn’t an easy header today so if you’re frustrating them to go out wide and deliver, you’re doing your job, I think on a day like today.

“We’re a better side on the ball than we showed. I think it was a little bit of a grenade,” added Edge, when asked about his half-time thoughts.

“I said at half-time, you’re playing the ball to people that you’d never like to receive and there was actually more time for us to put our foot on it and take care of it and they all agreed.

“You’re 1-0 up in a Cup tie, you’re happy but we were going up against the conditions in that (second) half so we said it’s all got to be a team thing, you’ve all got to dig in, fight and look after the ball when you get it and I think they did that in the second half.”

Folkestone Invicta produced a good move in the sixth minute of the second half, courtesy of patient approach play.

Paxman crossed from the left, Heard poked the ball over to Wright, who put over a first-time cross from the right-hand side of the penalty area and Yusuff rose at the near post to head over from inside the six-yard box.

Edge said: “There weren’t a clear-cut chances in the whole game really. I think the sending-off was a clear-cut chance because he (Yusuff) was clean through but other than that the conditions dictated the game really so even though when you thought there was a good passage of play and the ball came in, it was so hard to capitalise on it.  I think both sides really couldn’t create because of the conditions.”

Gloucester City called Andre into making a comfortable save in the 12th minute of the half when Young played the ball in from the right along the sodden turf and substitute striker Bernard Mensah’s left-footed angled drive from 20-yards was comfortably dealt with by Andre at his near post.

When asked about the new goalkeeper and why Tim Roberts was not in the squad, Edge revealed: “I thought Alexis was really good. I thought he was really assured with his handling. He didn’t have a lot to do but when it went to him, it stuck on two or three occasions.  He got the ball out quickly for us in the second half to play from the back, which was needed really. I thought everything that he could possibly do, he did well.

“Tim Roberts said to us last Saturday (a 3-3 home draw against Potters Bar Town) that he’s hurt his groin and he’s going to need Tuesday and Saturday off at least so Cugs straight away got onto it.

“No disrespect, we’ve got a really good youngster (Connor Collins) but we felt it was a little bit too big to throw him in.  We know he’s going to make the grade. We just have to treat it the right way, so we’ve brought Alexis in. We’ve had him at training a couple of times anyway. He’s also been at Dover and Andy Hessenthaler recommended him so that’s what we went with.”

The second half was a battle against the conditions with clear-cut goalscoring chances very few and far between.

Gloucester City created an opening inside the final 22 minutes when substitute Corey Jordan played the ball out to Ryan Galvin but the left-back cut into the box and drove the ball into the side netting, although Andre had it covered.

Folkestone Invicta went close to sealing the deal in the 69th minute, following a set-piece from the left.

Dolan’s hanging free-kick was flicked on by Newman and the ball was cleared out to Johnson, who hooked his first-time shot just past the foot of the right-hand post from 20-yards.

Edge said: “It wasn’t a clear-cut chance. I thought he did well to actually connect to be honest.

“There wasn’t really any clear-cut chances, it was all half-chances and I thought he did well to strike it, especially as he’s our right-centre-back.

“I thought Ryan grew into the game if I’m honest. I thought second half when we needed someone to put their foot on the ball and look after it, I thought he did that brilliantly.”

Frenchman Fabien Robert clipped the ball towards the Folkestone Invicta penalty area, which Johnson sliced back towards his goalkeeper, who caught the ball as it dropped from menacing stormy clouds.

Gloucester City almost grabbed an equaliser two minutes and six seconds into injury-time with their best chance of the game.

Folkestone Invicta’s immense centre-half Callum Davies slid in and was booked for a challenge that sent Harrison crashing to the ground 30-yards from goal.

Substitute striker Benni Smales-Braithwaite stroked his right-footed free-kick over the wall, the ball rattling against the crossbar, although Andre raised both of his arms high above his head in an attempt to flick the ball towards safety to ensure the former Bristol Rovers keeper maintained his debut clean-sheet.

“Well, it’s a brilliant strike to be honest. I’m glad it was the height it was because I don’t care how good your goalkeeper is, it’s going to beat him,” said Edge.

“Luckily enough for us, I think we earned that luck today. It rattled the bar so hard it went about 25 yards out after that and we were able to clear it.

“I thought we earned the win if I’m honest on a tough day.  I thought they gave us everything, I really do.

“The midfield three in the second half, they needed to scrap, fight and win the battle and I thought they did that.

“The back three were always assured and tidy. Callum Davies got man-of-the-match, I’m not surprised by that. I thought he made some really, really good decisions and good challenges and the boys up front gave their all.  All our boys did really, really well today and we deserved to go through.”

Folkestone Invicta go into the final Qualifying Round, which takes place in two weeks’ time, with £11,250 of prize money in the bank.

Edge also thanked the 669 fans that braved the atrocious conditions on the Kent coast today and wants a home tie next.

“It’s always a home game, I think the fans kind of deserve it especially in The FA Cup. It’s a treat, a home game against anyone and it’s on the day, that’s the beauty of The FA Cup,” said Edge.

“Thanks for coming out because it’s quite an easy one to stay in. It’s great, the backing here at the minute is at a level it hasn’t been for years.

“Cugs has been here for years and he’s told me they used to have that number and a bit more but I’ve never witnessed it. It does make a big difference. Can we get to 850?  It gives you a chance to build.

“Finances at non-league clubs are always hard. Cugs works really, really hard to make sure we don’t put ourselves in financial trouble anyway but every bit of money does help so as long as we stay in it.  Every club wants to get x amount in The FA Cup because then it balances the books and luckily for us this year we’re there sort of but it will be nice to get a couple more games in.”

The dream tie for Folkestone Invicta would be a home clash against neighbours Dover Athletic, relegation favourites at the base of the Vanarama National League with minus nine points from nine games and 6-0 losers at Grimsby Town today.

Edge added: “You know what it’s like in The FA Cup. You see who you get out of the hat and then you focus on them. If you’re fortunate enough to beat them then you go into the hat and see if you can get a League side down here, it will be lovely.”

Folkestone Invicta remain in third-place in the Isthmian League Premier Division table and welcome fifteenth-placed side Brightlingsea Regent to Cheriton Road next Saturday.  Let’s hope for kinder weather.

Brightlingsea were thumped 5-0 at home by Bognor Regis Town in the league today and have 10 points from as many games.

“I haven’t really thought about it because of the importance of this game today.  On Tuesday it will be a ‘well done’ and then we’ll turn our focus to that game,” said Edge.

“It’s a brilliant start. Are we shocked by it? Not necessarily. I think we’ve got good players here this year and I think we can actually get better if I’m being harsh.  It’s a brilliant start, we just need to keep it going.”

Folkestone Invicta: Alexis Andre, Jordan Wright, Alfie Paxman, Callum Davies, Matt Newman, Ryan Johnson, Scott Heard, Ronnie Dolan, David Smith, Ade Yusuff, Ian Draycott.
Subs: Oliver Freeman, Tyler Sterling, Finn O’Mara, Micheal Everitt, Connor Collins, Luca Borrello

Goal: Ade Yusuff 22

Booked: Ade Yusuff 49, Scott Heard 76, Callum Davies 90

Gloucester City: Jake Cole, Daniel Leadbitter, Ryan Galvin, Fabien Robert, Jordan Thompson, Tom Harrison, Lucas Tomlinson, Kevin Dawson, Danny King (Bernard Mensah 46), Max Sheaf (Benni Smales-Braithwaite 76), Jordan Young (Corey Jordan 59).
Subs: Cameron McGlip, Tommy O’Sullivan, Liam Armstrong, Leon Chambers-Parrilon

Booked: Tom Harrison 77

Sent Off:  Jordan Thompson 19

Attendance: 669
Referee: Mr Tom Danaher
Assistants: Mr James Hurst & Mr Charlie Roberts