Rivals Folkestone Invicta and Hythe Town play out an entertaining draw
NEARLY 900 people turned out to watch local rivals Folkestone Invicta and Hythe Town play out an entertaining draw at the Buzzlines Stadium on Easter Monday.
And although there were a few crunching tackles flying in, the only time the game really threatened to get heated was in bust-ups between the referee and both managers.
The home side made their intentions clear straight from the kick-off, as winger Josh Burchell ran at the Hythe defence as soon as the referee blew his whistle.
He and his strike partners, Richard Atkins and Dane Luchford, linked up well as a front three in the first half.
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Left-footed Burchell in particular seemed to enjoy cutting in from the right – which opened up space for right-back Josh Vincent.
And it was a long-throw from Vincent, flicked on by Atkins, which reached Luchford in the Hythe area.
The striker's scissor-kick on 36 minutes was deflected over the keeper and Invicta went in 1-0 up at half-time.
After the restart, as before, the ball spent most of the time caught in the air by the strong wind.
Punts over the top of the defence were bouncing dangerously and both keepers had to be on their toes.
And as the ball moved unpredictably, defenders from both sides picked up bookings.
A late challenge from Hythe skipper Dave Cook and a trip from centre-half Craig Cloke saw the pair yellow-carded.
Invicta stalwart Frankie Chappell was also booked after a series of fearsome tackles.
Around 70 minutes in, another strong tackle, this time from Atkins, was ignored by referee Matt Goldsmith, much to the fury of the away fans.
Seeming to look to make up for missing the foul, the official then penalised Invicta captain Liam Friend for the softest of challenges.
Hythe winger Jake Hobbs placed the ball just outside the area as Folkestone's goalkeeper Jack Delo lined up his wall.
Catching the stopper off-guard, Hobbs stroked the ball past a diving Delo into his side of the goal.
Invicta boss Neil Cugley was livid with the referee and made his feelings known at the end of the game, sarcastically applauding all three officials off the pitch.
Both sides would have liked to play each other with the conditions not having such a massive effect on the game and spoiling the spectacle for the supporters.
And with Invicta and Hythe still well in the hunt for the play-offs – the prospect of a winner-takes-all grudge match for promotion to the Ryman League Premier Division remains a very real possibility.
Folkestone: Delo, Vincent, Dickson, Friend, Chappell, Blanks, Smith, Edge, Atkins, Luchford (Ter Horst 72), Burchell (Newman 83)
Hythe: Eason, Walker, Winfield, Kingwell, Cloke, Dolan, Cook, Byrne (Thompson 62), Hobbs, Cass, Yianni