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New striker Stuart King immediately endeared himself to Folkestone Invicta supporters as he hit a hat-trick as Neil Cugley’s side won its first pre-season friendly of the summer 6-1 at home to Badshot Lea at the Buzzlines Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The club’s record goalscorer James Dryden added two more goals after coming on as a half time substitute and James Everitt completed the tally.
Invicta had wanted to sign King from Herne Bay last season as they lacked the goalscoring prowess to survive in the Ryman Premier League, but the striker ended up finishing last season at Thamesmead before making his move to spearhead the Folkestone club’s attack.
King took his place in the Invicta starting line up alongside the fit again Paul Jones in attack. Fellow new signing Luke Blewden also made his first appearance in midfield, with several other new faces gaining a first outing for Invicta during the second half, including new recruit Matt Hollyoak.
It was KING who opened the scoring in the tenth minute when he went round goalkeeper Luke Primble after being put through by captain Micheal Everitt and hit the ball into the roof of the net from an acute angle.
Badshot Lea, who played in the Combined Counties League, rallied as Invicta goalkeeper Jack Delo saved from striker John Pomeroy when Darren Black crossed from the right hand side.
And Dave WOOD equalised in the 23rd minute when he received the ball from left winger Aaron Ageyman and went round Delo before finding the net with a good finish.
Invicta centre half Frankie Chappell got up to meet a 28th minute Josh Burchell corner from the right but his header was cleared from close to the line.
The visitors threatened again in the 32nd minute as Black stuck the crossbar as he shot over Delo when the goalkeeper’s attempted clewarance fell to him outside the penalty area.
King shot wide across goal from the right hand side of the penalty area at the other end after a move also involving James Everitt, Darren Smith and Burchell.
And KING restored Invicta’s lead in the 41st minute when he got put in by striking partner Jones down the right hand side, cut inside and hit the net with a low finish.
Right back Josh Vincent got forward a minute later and hit an acrobatic volley wide of the far post.
Invicta made five changes at half time and soon increased their lead when KING completed his hat-trick in the 47th minute as he slotted the ball into the net from the left hand side of the penalty area after a good run forward from Chappell.
The visitors responded as Pomeroy chipped over from just outside the penalty area and Black then broke and shot over.
In tit-for-tat exchanges, Dryden shot over for Invicta after making space for himself outside the penalty area and Chris Mackay shot at Delo from outside the box.
DRYDEN made it 4-1 in the 60th minute when he hit a low shot across goal into the far corner of the net from the left hand side of the penalty area.
That was the cue for Invicta to introduce new goalkeeper Roddy Hayward in place of regular Delo on the hour mark.
The home side struck again in the 67th minute when EVERITT headed in from close range after Dryden chipped the ball across from the left in a move also involving Burchell.
Invicta goalkeeper Hayward then made an excellent save to touch over a close range Pomeroy header when the ball came across from the left and Pomeroy then shot wide across goal from outside the penalty area after a crossfield ball from left to right.
But it was DRYDEN who completed the scoring in the 72nd minute with a cross-shot from the left hand side that sailed over the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net.
Youngsters Jason Sowle, Matt Hooper, Scott Punton and Josh McCue all got their first taste of action as Invicta used their full quota of substitutes.
Central defenders Chappell and Liam Dickson were the only two Invicta players to stay on for the entire match.
Sowle scooped a shot over the crossbar from the right hand side of the box and Dryden raced clear again in the 80th minute but over-ran the ball out of play after going past the goalkeeper out wide when on a hat-trick.
Wood ran through into the Invicta penalty area but was crowded out and Badshot Lea finished the game by going close again when Pomeroy’s 90th minute shot from the right hand side of the penalty area hit the underside of the crossbar.
A welcome return to action for all concerned against a Badshot Lea club with whom one-time Invicta defender and fitness coach Lee Dyson is now connected.
FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Delo (Hayward 60 mins), Vincent (Hollyoak 45 mins), Burchell (McCue 72 mins), Dickson, Chappell, Blewden (Hooper 45 mins), M. Everitt (Jackson 72 mins), Smith (Punton 45 mins), Jones (Dryden 45 mins), J. Everitt (Sowle 45 mins), King (J. Everitt 55 mins).
BADSHOT LEA: Primble, Wood, Dennis, Williams, Cooper, Roberts, Stevens (Carey 45 mins), Black (Marriner 76 mins), Pomeroy, Marriner (Mackay 45 mins), Ageyman (Cousins 45 mins).