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An 88th minute equaliser from Frankie Chappell saved the day for Folkestone Invicta as they drew 2-2 at home to Whyteleafe in Saturday’s F. A. Cup Preliminary Round tie at the Buzzlines Stadium.
Chappell had moved up from centre half to centre forward during the latter stages of the second half as Invicta went three at the back in a desperate bid to stay in the prestigious competition after Whyteleafe had twice taken the lead.
And it was last season’s Player of the Year CHAPPELL who swept the ball into the net when James Everitt nodded on a Roland Edge ball down the left.
Already without strikers Paul Jones (ankle) and Stuart King (hamstring), Invicta were dealt another blow when new striker Richard Atkins had to leave the field and be taken to hospital with a shoulder injury.
The home side had made a positive start as visiting goalkeeper Paul Smith touched a Ryan Moreby shot round the post for the game’s first corner in the second minute.
And Moreby shot against the post in the 18th minute after substitute Roy Guiver’s shot had been blocked.
But it was Whyteleafe who opened the scoring in the 26th minute thanks to a moment of magic from Jay GARRICK. The big and strong striker broke down the left hand side, cut in and poked the ball into the far corner of the net.
There were chances at both ends in the 32nd minute when Hiram Laud-Anderson blocked from James Everitt and Invicta goalkeeper Jack Delo touched over a shot from Ryan Thomas.
Whyteleafe goalkeeper Smith touched a well-struck 34th minute Edge shot from the left past the post after James Everitt had a met a Josh Vincent cross from the right and Guiver was close from Darren Smith’s subsequent corner.
And Invicta equalised in the 38th minute when SMITH capitalised to slam the ball into the net from close range after the Whyteleafe defence had failed to clear a cross from the right.
But Whyteleafe regained their lead, albeit with a hint of controversy, when Fabian BATCHELOR was given on-side and put the ball past goalkeeper Delo before going round him and putting the ball into an empty net.
Batchelor had been sent off when Invicta came back to win 2-1 in the league at Whyteleafe the previous Saturday but now threatened to be the match winner a week on.
Invicta responded as a well-struck Moreby shot flashed past the post after an initial Micheal Eveirtt shot was charged down before half time.
Alec Brown then blocked a James Everitt shot when the striker’s elder brother Micheal played the ball through just after the interval.
Striker Everitt lifted the ball over up to get past Dan Aldous when Guiver played the ball up in the 55th minute but goalkeeper Smith had a bit of luck to save and keep the ball out and Chappell hit the ball at goalkeeper Smith when Invicta’s Smith played the ball back in.
At the other end, Jerome Ingram was given on-side down the right hand side but could not reach Garrick when he pulled the ball back.
Invicta brought Josh Burchell on for Liam Dickson and switched things around as Edge dropped back into defence, with Vincent moving up into midfield when Matt Hollyoak replaced Moreby.
A 69th minute Burchell cross from the left came back off the bar and Ingram blocked Vincent’s shot on the line as Invicta went close again.
Chappell moved up to join the attack, with Guiver dropping back to centre half and Friend switching to left back.
It was Chappell who hit the crossbar in the 72nd minute when James Everitt played the ball in to Edge and the officials spotted an infringement when Burchell put the ball into the net after a Smith touch in a crowded goal mouth.
But just as it looked as though it was not going to be Invicta’s day, Chappell came to the rescue.
The home side then chased a dramatic late winner as Chappell headed wide from a stoppage time Smith corner on the right.
There were bookings for Invicta’s Chappell and Vincent and for Whyteleafe’s Brown.
With Vincent receiving treatment and Hollyoak clearly in distress by the end, Invicta will have to see who is left standing for Tuesday night’s replay.
FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Delo, Vincent, Dickson (Burchell 59 mins), Friend, Chappell, Edge, Smith, J. Everitt, Atkins (Guiver 7 mins), Moreby (Hollyoak 64 mins), M. Everitt. Unused subs: Miller, Hayward.
WHYTELEAFE: Smith, Brockhurst, Batchelor (Simpson 62 mins), Huell, Aldous, Laud-Anderson, Brown, Ingram, Agyei, Garrick, Thomas. Unused subs: Marks, Clare, Henry-Brown, Borrett.