Folkestone Invicta all but secured their place in the Ryman League Division One South play offs with a comfortable 4-1 win over Sittingbourne at the Buzzlines Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Three goals in the opening 18 minutes put Invicta in total control after James Everitt had opened the scoring after just 18 seconds.
Everitt scored the opening two goals and Stuart King marked his return from suspension with another goal and then missed a penalty that halted Invicta’s momentum.
Josh Burchell made it 4-0 early in the second half before Calum McGeehan pulled a goal back for the visitors on the hour mark.
It was Invicta’s second successive 4-1 home Saturday win and their fifth successive victory as they are finishing the league campaign with a good run.
Invicta got off to a perfect start when EVERITT nodded the ball in when it broke to him down the middle. With just 18 seconds on the clock, it equalled Invicta’s senior record after James Dryden had also scored after 18 seconds at Croydon Athletic in February 2009.
The home side had gone into the game with King and Roland Edge back and goalkeeper Roddy Hayward making his first senior star in place of the suspended Jack Delo.
Invicta threatened again in the seventh minute when Frankie Chappell headed just over at the far post when Burchell sent over the first corner of the game from the left hand side.
It was soon 2-0 as EVERITT lifted the ball over advancing goalkeeper Adam Woodward in the 16th minute and it bounced into the net after the striker had latched onto a ball over the visitors’ defence from Chappell.
When KING made it 3-0 in the 18th minute as he slammed a low shot into the net after a Burchell ball in from the left it looked as though it was a case of just how many Invicta might score.
Neil Cugley’s side were the awarded a penalty when right back Lee Gledhill played the ball up to King and the striker was impeded by centre half Rob Lyall close to the edge of the area.
But King’s penalty was saved by Woodward after a spot of gamesmanship from both players. A natural goalscorer, King has now missed three penalties this season, each in a home game.
Hicham Akhazzan shot at Hayward from the edge of the penalty area in the 38th minute as Sittingbourne tried to steady the ship, while Invicta captain Darren Smith volleyed just wide of the far post a minute later.
A 43rd minute Everitt shot was deflected for a corner when a Darren Marsden ball sent the striker away down the left hand side of the penalty area as he chased a hat-trick.
Akhazzan found Elie Kayembe down the left in the 49th minute and the striker’s low shot went just wide of the far post across goal.
Invicta made it 4-0 in the 50th minute when BURCHELL applied the finishing touch after King had found Smith and the midfielder slotted the ball through down the right hand side of the penalty area.
With the result now beyond doubt, Sittingbourne came back into things as Akhazzan shot at Hayward and a Kayembe shot was deflected over for a corner.
It was from that subsequent set piece from the right that McGEEHAN pulled a goal back in the 60th minute when the ball fell to him on the left hand side of the penalty area.
A 67th minute ball in from the left from Sittingbourne captain Joe Goldsmith floated just over the crossbar and Invicta central defender Liam Friend had to head away a cross from substitute Chris Edwards two minutes later.
McGeehan then fired high and wide after receiving the ball from Akhazzan.
There was a scare for Invicta goalkeeper Hayward in the 82nd minute when he was booked for handling the ball outside the penalty area as he collected the ball from Joe Nwoko down the left hand side of the box.
Deloo had been dismissed for the same offence, but in a more central area, against Walton Casuals to give Hayward this chance.
Friend cleared for a corner when the ball was played up to Akhazzan during stoppage time as Invicta signed off in what is likely to be their final home match of the season before at least one away play off.
FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Hayward, Gledhill, Burchell (Atkins 83 mins), Friend, Chappell, Dickson, Smith, Marsden, J. Everitt, King (Abel 70 mins), Edge (M. Everitt 72 mins).
SITTINGBOURNE: Woodward, J. Hogg, Palfrey, Moore (Holness 72 mins), Lyall, McGeehan, Girt, Goldsmith, Kayembe (Edwards 62 mins), Nwoko, Akhazzan. Unused subs: Spice, Dowley.