Folkestone Invicta 1-4 Lowestoft Town
- Monday, 02 May 2011
- Written by Sam Jones
Lowestoft Town confirmed their place in the Ryman Premier League play offs as they came from behind to beat ten-men Folkestone Invicta on the final day of the league season at the Buzzlines Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Suffolk club came to Folkestone knowing that only a win would guarantee their play-off place but Invicta threatened to end their hopes of a third successive promotion as striker James Dryden opened the scoring in the 49th minute.
But Invicta were reduced to ten men when left back Josh Burchell was sent off for a second yellow card in the 58th minute.
Striker Matt Nolan got the vital equaliser for Lowestoft in the 71st minute that would as it turned out have been enough to get them into the paly-offs. But the visitors ran away with the game in the final 20 minutes to give them a somewhat flattering final scoreline.
Lowestoft now go on to meet local rivals Bury Town in the play offs, while Tonbridge Angels host Harrow Borough.
Bottom-of-the-table Invicta have been involved in a few of these final day tense deciders over the years and on a sunny afternoon Lowestoft manager Micky Chapman continually tried to instil a greater sense of urgency in his team as they struggled to find a breakthrough.
Invicta captain Micheal Everitt made his 400th starting appearance for the club, while goalkeeper Jack Delo and central defender Frankie Chappell completed the season as ever present in all 52 of Invicta's matches in all competitions this season.
22-year-old Chappell, later presented with the Supporters' Player of the Year award at the club's end-of-season dinner, also completed all 52 matches Invicta played in 2009-10.
He has now made 119 consecutive appearances for Invicta since missing a match away to Metropolitan Police in February 2009.
Fellow central defender Liam Friend missed out on also completing a second successive season ever present when he had to withdraw due to illness. He last missed an Invicta match in April 2009 at home to Kingstonian.
Friend and the injured Roland Edge's absence meant that Niall Jackson and Luke Webb came into the Invicta starting line-up, with James Everitt at right back and Josh Vincent moving up into central midfield.
Invicta made the early running as Chappell headed over from close range in the seventh minute after a Burchell free kick on the right and a Jackson shot was blocked by Curtis Haynes-Brown when Vincent played the ball to the teenager on the right hand side of the penalty area.
Lowestoft's Lubomir Guentchev shot over at the far post in the 19th minute when the ball came across from left to right.
Jamie Forshaw fluffed his lines in the 23rd minute when Guentchev played the ball in from the right, with the offside Nolan putting the ball into the net.
Vincent got into the penalty area in the 27th minute but could not quite get the ball over goalkeeper Andy Reynolds. But Nolan should have opened the scoring at the other end a minute later but shot wide across goal after a Forshaw ball, with Joe Francis unable to connect at the far post.
Burchell cleared for a corner from close to the line in the 32nd minute to deny Guentchev and James Everitt cleared Francis' subsequent corner on the right.
Delo came out to claim the ball but was hurt in the process when Scott Mitchell threaded the ball through to Francis on the left.
Lowestoft had to replace Forshaw with Adrian Forbes before half time and Forbes shot at Delo from the left hand side of the penalty area in the 44th minute.
Burchell was booked for a 45h minute pull on Guentchev, a caution that seemed innocuous at the time but was later to have a huge impact on the game.
Lowestoft were close during first half stoppage time when Delo touched over a Nolan header from a Mitchell free kick and substitute Forbes volleyed over after a Guentchev ball in from the right.
DRYDEN was booked for dissent at the start of the second half but soon opened the scoring with a sweet strike over goalkeeper Reynolds following an exchange of passes with Darren Smith, the latter of whom finishes the season as Invicta's top goalscorer with 14 in all competitions.
Nolan volleyed wide from a Guentchev cross on the right after a Mitchell ball as Lowestoft responded to going behind.
And the visitors' chances of saving the day increased when Burchell was dismissed for a challenge.
It brought Invicta's total of sendings off to nine – and eight different players – in what has proved to be a difficult season after their promotion of 2009-10.
Webb filled in at left back with Smith dropping back deeper into midfield as Invicta re-adjusted to being a man down.
It was to be all Lowestoft in the closing stages though as Forbes won a corner after a run down the right and Mitchell shot over from the edge of the penalty area when Forbes found Guentchev on the right.
The all-important equaliser came when NOLAN tapped the ball in after substitute Andrew Fisk found Guentchev on the right and he played the ball into the penalty area.
It was 2-1 in the 78th minute when a cross from left back Adam Smith hit Invicta's CHAPPELL in the face and it ended up in his own net, with Lowestoft's Forbes in close attendance.
Invicta re-adjusted again as James Everitt moved up front and Smith dropped even deeper.
Webb cleared from close to the line in the 87th minute when Forbes didn't make full contact to another Guentchev cross from the right after a surging run from captain Dale Cockrill.
Defender Andrew CAVE-BROWN made it 3-1 in the 88th minute when he slotted in a Guentchev cross as Lowestoft kept up the pressure.
And substitute Russell STOCK made it 4-1 when he converted in the middle after a move down the right hand side and cross from Caver-Brown to the delight of the visiting contingent. It gave Lowestoft a repeat of their 4-1 win over Invicta in Suffolk back in early September.
For Invicta it was another game that had slipped away as they finished the season with a run of 13 games without a win and with just one win in their last 20 matches.
Nathan Hardwick from the title-winning youth side was an unused substitute for the first time as Invicta continue to look to the future.
FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Delo, Vincent, Burchell, Jackson (Guiver 75 mins), Chappell, Webb, M. Everitt, Dickson, J. Everitt, Dryden, Smith. Unused subs: Bates, Hardwick.
LOWESTOFT TOWN: Reynolds, Cave-Brown, Smith, Mitchell, Gaughran, Haynes-Brown, Guentchev, Cockrill, Nolan (Stock 90 mins), Forshaw (Forbes 41 mins), Francis (Fisk 62 mins). Unused subs: Ainsley, Crane.