Rob leaves Swans tied up in a Knott

Monday 03rd April 2006
Folkestone Invicta recorded a resounding 3-1 victory against play off chasing Walton and Hersham on a sunny and blustery Saturday afternoon at the Buzzlines Stadium in the Ryman Premier League, reports Andy Bown and Tom Marchant –
Invicta went 1-0 down early in the first half but much to the delight of the home fans scored again on the stroke of half time and put away another two goals in the second half to make it three wins in three games. 

Manager Neil Cugley made two changes to the side that recorded a 2-0 victory against East Thurrock United last Saturday in arguably their best away performance of the season; Paul Lamb replaced Lee Shearer (ankle injury) in defence and youngster Rob Knott made his first team debut in attack coming in for the injured Walid Matata (hamstring).

Victory against Walton and Hersham has ensured Folkestone’s points total from last season has been exceeded and Invicta have now won more games than they have lost in the Ryman Premier. 

The home side started brightly with a good tempo carrying on from last Saturday’s victory in Essex with debutant Knott having a good chance as early as the very first minute. 

“Well of course we’re pleased that we got the three points,” said Cugley. “But I wouldn’t say that we’re all ecstatic as we’re coming to expect to win games now.

”To be fair though they’ve (Walton) come to win and have played allright. It’s nice to see a team come down here to try and win but they’ve got to as they’re challenging for the play offs.”

Despite Folkestone creating chances of their own in the first half Walton and Hersham did threaten on occasions; a curling free kick hit the inside of the left post and somehow managed not to pass over the goal line and a decent strike was buried in the net to the right of goalkeeper Tony Kessell. 

Cugley said: “We got caught with their goal but we should have closed it down much better. It’s pleasing though that we were able to come back from a goal down and we coped with the wind”.

The Seasiders settled well after the early goal from the visitors and a handball from Walton’s number 2 in the penalty area gave Folkestone a penalty, converted expertly by man of the match and sweeper Kevin Watson.

The Invicta boss remarked: “Well you know I never used to watch them but I do now and I had to watch it! If you’ve said earlier in the season about us going one behind I would’ve been worried but I’m not anymore - I thought we could get the goals and the team have got the confidence to go out and get them”.

Invicta got their second goal early on in the second half; a pacy, inswinging corner from Matt Carruthers caused havoc in the Walton box and after the opposing keeper could only parry Mark Saunders was there to poke the ball home to make it four goals in three games for the midfielder.

Cugley expressed: “Well it was somewhat psychological that it was level at half time and that gave us a platform to attack them in the second half. Mark (Saunders) gambles a lot more than other non league players but it’s not luck that he got the goal it’s his experience and quality from playing as a professional”.

Carruthers himself then got his first for the club and Folkestone’s third by latching on to a through ball and lobbing Walton’s onrushing keeper who got a hand to the ball but could not keep it out of the net.

Cugley added: “Matt did well and he is getting a lot fitter. He got his first goal for us today and he’s really looking the business now”.

Three goals today from all areas of the side also takes pressure of the back line and Cugley pointed out: “Shearer was out today but I thought we did well at the back. At the moment there is a big smile around the club and our defenders now know that we will be getting goals and that’s taking the pressure off them as we’re not just winning 1-0 anymore like earlier in the season. The quality that we’ve brought in has strengthened our attack”.

Saturday’s attack featured debutant Knott and Neil was very encouraged by his performance, adding: “That debut at this standard of football was awesome. Knotty’s display was one of the highlights of the afternoon and he looked really comfortable on the ball.

“I just asked him to carry on what he was doing for the reserves like on Tuesday night and he really caused problems for them. If we can get him a bit fitter and sharper in the summer then he’s going to be a big asset for us next season.”

Knott, who scored a hat trick on Tuesday night against Hythe Town reserves in a 4-0 victory for Folkestone reserves, is expected to continue up front in the away trip to Slough next Saturday (8th April) as Cugley confirmed that Matata seems unlikely to recover from a hamstring injury to be in contention for a place in the squad.

Debutant Knott added:“I enjoyed playing really and it was nice to play rather than sit on the bench. I found it tougher at this level than playing for the reserves and there are bigger defenders and the game is played at a higher tempo.”

Knott only found out he was in the starting line up on the morning of the game but he felt that this played to his advantage, explaining: “I wasn’t nervous at all and finding out in the morning I was going to play helped me really as I was able to prepare myself to give 100%”.

It was the first time the teenager had played in front of a sizable crowd and the watching fans didn’t faze him and he said: “When you’re playing you don’t really notice you’re playing in front of 400 people and you just go out to do your best.

”But the crowd getting behind you really does spur you on and the fans probably don’t realise it. I should’ve taken a few of my chances and it would’ve been nice to score on my debut!”

Invicta have also arranged a friendly against Hythe Town next Monday, 10th April at the Buzzlines Stadium, kicking off at 7:45pm. 

* Meanwhile, next season’s Ryman League campaign gets underway on Saturday 19th August 2006.