I travelled to what would be the final game before the second lockdown of the year, at Folkestone Invicta, where the manager Neil Cugley has served for 24 years, being the longest serving manager in the top seven tiers of football. The ground had a real atmosphere and a crowd pushing 600 all singing and cheering. This was a game in the Isthmian Premier league, which is currently the highest league permitted to admit fans.
The club practised good Covid practice and managed entry to the stadium safely. While tickets at £11 were not cheap, Match Programmes were on sale at £1.50 and match draw tickets for a £1. There was a good bar and a separate hot drinks stand. It felt like a welcoming family club.
The game started well with Hornchurch in the ascendency and they came close twice early on.
Josh Vincent, Folkestone’s captain scored a goal in the 15th minute, with a 25 yard volley beyond the keeper. Soon after this, the Folkestone Number 10, David Smith, had a shot on the turn which the Hornchurch keeper pushed away bravely.
At half time with the score 1-0 I found my way into the unique programme, book and memorabilia shop at Folkestone. It was a real privilege to browse!
As the second half started, Hornchurch blew a simple chance when it would have been easier for them to score. Folkestone continued to press forward when they could, also going close.
As the half progressed the Hornchurch manager began to berate the referee and assistant. The crowd in turn berated him. The proximity of non league fans to the managers is a real joy!!
Hornchurch went flat out for an equaliser but dogged tackling and defending kept the score at 1-0 going into the last 15 minutes.
With a few minutes to go Hornchurch’s Charlie Ruff finally squeezed the ball over the line after a rebound to silence the crowd and make it 1-1.
Both teams woke up then and had chances to win. The referee indicated 4 additional minutes at the end of 90 minutes. Both teams went flat out to the beat of the Folkestone supporter’s drum throughout. Hornchurch had a chance cleared off the line after a save from the keeper right at the death. Just when it looked like it was over, Folkestone’s Ian Draycott scored the winner in the 94th minute from a cross from the right. A great end to an enjoyable evening and a solid 2-1 win for Folkestone as they entered lockdown.
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Ground looks decent. I can’t believe how much is in the shop!!
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