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Corners: Invicta 5 Gillingham 8  

FOLKESTONE INVICTA                            1

GILLINGHAM                                             1

Folkestone Invicta enjoyed a creditable 1-1 draw against a strong Gillingham squad in their first pre-season friendly of the summer at a hot Fullicks Stadium on Saturday lunchtime.

Neil Cugley’s side opened the scoring through last season’s top marksman Ade Yusuff, but Gillingham – who made 11 changes at half time - came back strongly after the interval and equalised in the 76th minute through Conor Wilkinson.

Invicta then had goalkeeper Nick Shaw to thank for a great 89th minute one-handed save onto the post to keep out a Brandon Hanlan volley.

The Folkestone side had striker Jerson Dos Santos in their ranks alongside Yusuff.  Dos Santos played for neighbours Hythe Town last season and has also had spells with Margate, Sutton United, Corinthian-Casuals and Grays Athletic after starting out as a youngster at Crystal Palace.

Gillingham’s first half X1 included goalkeeper Tom Hadler and defender Finn O’Mara who have both had spells with Invicta and who have both been awarded with new contracts as manager Steve Lovell prepares for the 2018-19 season.

Chances were few and far between in the early exchanges but a low 19th minute Elliott List shot from the right hand side flashed across goal and past the far post in a move started by Regan Charles-Cook.

At the other end and following the game’s first drinks break, Dos Santos hit a low 29th minute shot at goalkeeper Hadler from inside the penalty area.

Invicta defender Nat Blanks then blocked for a corner a minute later when Mark Byrne found List on the right hand side.

There was danger for Invicta in the 35th minute when List raced clear of the home defence but unselfishly chose to square the ball across to Liam Nash and the danger was averted.

Nash – who scored a penalty on his Leatherhead debut against Invicta last season – played the ball in to Byrne inside the home box two minutes later but Blanks got across to clear.

But it was Invicta that broke the deadlock in the 45th minute when YUSUFF found the net from close range after he had initially taken the ball on down the middle and put it past goalkeeper Hadler for Dos Santos to find himself with a tight angle on the left hand side of the six-yard box who was able to find Yusuff again.

Whilst Gillingham emerged with an entirely different side for the second half, Invicta brought on new signing Alfie Paxman, Ian Draycott and Shaw for player-coach Micheal Everitt, Johan Ter Horst and goalkeeper Tim Roberts.

Fourth official Joe Dann-Pye also replaced Nick Dunn as referee.

Hanlan broke down the right hand side within 30 seconds of the re-start but Blanks blocked again for a corner.

Dean Parrett then broke through the middle in the 48th minute but goalkeeper Shaw saved with his feet.

A 51st minute Navid Nasseri cross from the left hand side was then cleared by Invicta captain and former Gillingham central defender Callum Davies for a corner.

Nasseri then side wide on the turn from outside the penalty area for Gillingham two minutes later.

New boy Pxman broke down the left hand side in the 54th minute and played a good ball in but big Czech goalkeeper Tomas Holy claimed it.

Folowing the first of two second half drinks breaks, Invicta brought Phil Starkey on for goalscorer Yusuff.  Starkey – Players’ Player of the Year in the 205-6 Division One South championship-winning campaign – had missed all of last season through injury.

Invicta goalkeeper Shaw claimed a 66th minute cross from the left and after another drinks break, Invicta brought on teenagers Ethan Madden and tom Walmsley for Jerald Aboagye and dos Santos.

But Gillingham equalised in the 76th minute when a big clearance from goalkeeper Holy reached Parker who played the ball across to WILKINSON who slotted and virtually passed the ball into the net.

Wilkinson had scored both goals when Gillingham won a friendly here back in February and had been denied a hat-trick that night by a Shaw penalty save.

Draycott slotted the ball in towards fellow substitute Walmsley a minute later but Gabriel Zakuani did well to clear.

The roles were reversed in the 82nd minute when Walmsley touched the ball to Draycott whose shot deflected off captain Zakuani for a corner.

Parker and Wilkinson combined in the 87th minute but the latter over-hit the final ball into the penalty area.

Gillingham then nearly won it when a Josh Rees shot was deflected for a corner on the right hand side that was met by a Zakuani header and Shaw made an excellent save to deny Hanlan.

An enjoyable game and run out for the players, followed by England’s World Cup quarter final against Sweden in Russia.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts (Shaw 45 mins), Aboagye (Madden 69 mins), Blanks, Vincent, Davies, Everitt (Paxman 45 mins), McCann, Dolan, Yusuff (Starkey 62 mins), Dos Santos (Walmsley 69 mins), Ter Horst (Draycott 45 mins).

GILLINGHAM (first half): Hadler, O’Neill, Ehmer, O’Mara, Garmston, Byrne, Reilly, Charles-Cook, Nash, Eaves, List.

GILLINGHAM (second half): Holy, Fuller, Lacey, Zakuani, Simpson, Rees, Parrett, Nasseri, Hanlan, Wilkinson, Parker.