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Folkestone Invicta

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Ian Draycott scored two goals as Folkestone Invicta  began their 2021-22 Pitching In Isthmian League Premier Division season with a 3-1 win over one of the title favourites Worthing in front of a bumper 836 crowd at the BuildKent Stadium.    This was a highly anticipated season opener in the sun which saw all of the game’s goals come during the second half and both sides miss a penalty with the scores level at 0-0.   Long-serving Invicta manager Neil Cugley began his 25th season in charge of the Folkestone club and will have been delighted with how the afternoon panned out.   This is the third successive year that this fixture has been played on the opening day of the season and Worthing were league leaders when both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons were curtailed due to Covid.   Much of manager Cugley’s pre-match chat with assistant Roland Edge and player-coach Micheal Everitt before announcing his line up would have focused on whether to start with the experience of 33-year-old Draycott or the youth of 19-year-old Tyler Sterling.   The decision to start with Draycott was to pay dividends as he took his Invicta tally to 140 goals, now just one behind James Dryden’s record of 141 for the club, and the manager also praised his side’s shape after the game.   After David Smith (Ivicta) and Ollie Pearce (Worthing) had penalties saved, it was Pearce who broke the deadlock for the visitors before Draycott soon equalised and then put the home side ahead before Smith completed the scoring.   Invicta were to have much the better of the first half from the start as Draycott curled a sixth minute shot from just outside the penalty area but visiting goalkeeper Harrison Male got behind it.   Ade Yusuff then played the ball across goal from the right hand side of the box three minutes later but it hit Alfie Paxman and went wide.   Yusuff may not have scored on his first competitive fixture back in Invicta colours after being top goalscorer in 2017-18 and 2018-19 but his presence and contribution was to play a big part in Invicta’s victory on Saturday and his return will improve the Folkestne side this season.   It was Yusuff that broke down the right hand side and got a tenth minute shot in that warmed goalkeeper Male’s hands.   Right back Joel Colbran came across to the left hand side to take the game’s first corner for Worthing in the 13th minute when captain Aarran Racine headed wide.   Invicta’s own first corner followed three minutes later when the ball came back to taker Ronnie Dolan on the left who played it back across goal where defender Danny Barker sliced it away.    Dolan then hit a low 18th minute shot at Male when the ball came out to him on the edge of the box.   Invicta’s penalty came when captain Callum Davies won a sliding tackle to find Paxman on the left whose ball into the box went via Smith to Yusuff who was brought down by Alfie Young who was subsequently booked by referee Michael Robertson-Tant.   Smith stepped up to take the 23rd minute spot kick but Male saved with his legs. The number of missed penalties in recent seasons will be something Invicta will be looking to improve on. Most people felt that the home side should have gone in ahead at half time here.   Will Seagar came to Worthing’s rescue with a good 26th minute saving tackle to deny Dolan at the far post after Yusuff had taken on two defenders down the left hand side and played the ball across goal following good play from Draycott.   Seagar was soon to be replaced with a first half knee injury to be replaced with Marvin Armstrong who had been man of the match when Worthing won here in last season’s opening day fixture and the midfielder was again comfortable on the ball.    Pearce curled a 27th minute shot wide of the far post from the right hand side for Worthing, while Yusuff got a shot in for Invicta from the right hand side of the box two minutes later but it was at Male.    It was end-to-end as Josh Vincent headed wide a 38th minute Dolan corner from the left at the far post and Armstrong embarked on a good run a minute later and played a one-two with Shaq Gwengwe but was thwarted by a good Matt Newman tackle.   Worthing threatened to take control at the start of the second half as Jasper Pattenden broke down the left hand side and went down under challenge from Invictadebutant Ryan Johnson. But Pearce’s 48th minute penalty was saved by Invicta goalkeeper Tim Roberts.   It was PEARCE who tne opened the scoring direct from a 52nd minute free kick from an inviting position after a foul by Davies on Pearce himself.   But Invicta were soon level as Yusuff broke down the left hand side and his ball across goal was put out for a corner by a Racine header.  Dolan’s 56th minute corner from the left was flicked in by DRAYCOTT.   Yusuff then sliced his shot wide from the right hand side of the box as Invicta now had their tails back up.   A 65th minute Reece Myles-Meekums ball in from the left was headed wide by Racine.   Invicta went ahead i the 67th minute when Yusuff broke down the left hand side  following a free kick and Paxman played the ball across goal to Jordan Wrighton the right hand side who brought it down and played the ball back to DRAYCOTT who hit a great strike ito the roof of the net from the edge of the penalty area.   Worthing made a double substitution as Dayshone Golding and Thomas Chalaye came on for Gwengwe and Dean Cox.   But Invicta increased their lead in the 71st minute when SMITH followed up to make sure that the ball crossed the line despite Young’s efforts to keep it out after the home striker had put the ball past the goa;lkeeper when striking partner Yusuff had put him clean through.   Smith (Invicta) and Pearce (Worthing) were both to miss a penalty and score here and both had also scored in last season’s corresponding opening day fixture.   The final goal saw Invictat start to use their own bench as Kieron McCann replaced Dolan and Sterling came on for Smith.   Yusuff bundled his way past two defenders down the right hand side but his 78th minute ball across goal just evaded two colleagues in the middle.   Johnson dispossessed Pattenden in the 89th minute when Sterling threaded the ball through to fellow substitute McCann who got a shot in but Male saved.   Worthing’s Colbran was booked for a stoppage time foul on Yusuiff who was then replaced with Invicta’s record appearance holder Everitt.   The home crowd wanted to see another special set piece from Sterling but this time it was too far out and went wide.   Home supporters, though, were soon to leave more than happy.    FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Wright, Newman, Davies, Johnson, Draycott, Dolan (McCann 73 mins), Smith (Sterling 75 mins), Yusuff (Everitt 90 mins), Paxman.   Unused subs: O’Mara, Collins.    WORTHING: Male, Colbran, Seager (Armstrong 32 mins), Racine, Young, Cox (Chalaye 67 mins), Barker, Gwengwe (Golding 67 mins), Pearce, Myles-Meekums, Pattenden.  Unused subs: Webber, Diallo.   Attendance: 836.