Folkestone Invicta 0 v 1 Grays Athletic
BLUES players gave their loyal band of travelling supporters a New Year’s Eve present with this well deserved victory against their Kent rivals in a game that could have seen them win by a bigger margin. Kieron Bishop notched the winner to continue his rich vein of form in front of goal registering the seventh goal of his fledgling Blues career.
Blues gave notice of their intentions as early as the first minute winning a corner from which Luke Wilson rose highest nodding the ball just wide of the upright.
Folkestone’s first opportunity came from Wright, who was allowed too much space on the right and was able to send over send a searching cross that found Taylor, forced a good save from Amadou Tangara. The Blues were however finding their rhythm and looked the most likely to make the breakthrough.
Jamie Mascoll and Joao Carlos were seeing a lot of the ball down the left flank and their combined pace was causing the Folkestone rearguard some anxious movements. Bishop looked lively breaking quickly he fired in a sweet strike that Chalmers -Steven could only push out fortunately for him no Blues player followed up and the ball was scrambled clear. Lheareux Menga then had a half chance saved by the keeper this time holding onto the ball.
Wright was a constant thorn in Blues side and he looked the pick of the home side making dangerous runs and sending in some testing crosses. From one of these Cornwell saw his goal-bound effort deflected for a corner which was subsequently cleared to safety by the visitors.
Harry Watkins came close when he sent in a tentative cross which Chalmers-Steven turned over with some difficulty and from the corner kick the ball was cleared out to Wilson who shot wildly over. Moments later Carlos had a golden opportunity in the 23rd minute when a pinpoint cross from Menga found him unmarked at the far post but he planted his header agonisingly wide of the post.
Blues continued to probe for an opening and were rewarded in the 28th minute and it was a well constructed goal. Wilson won a decisive tackle near the half way line and clipped the ball into Menga who cleverly nodded the ball into the path of the onrushing Carlos, driving forward to the bye line he sent in a low cross which was met by Bishop who swept the ball home from close range. It was just reward for Blues enterprising play. It could have been two nil when Carlos, who is slowly finding his form, was unlucky with a fierce drive testing Chalmers-Steven once again.
Folkestone were finding themselves pushed back as Blues tempo allowed them to control the midfield and when they did get forward apart from a couple of anxious moments Blues defenders dealt with any threat comfortably.
Ryan Mahal who is developing into a solid fullback used his pace well and bludgeoned forward to the edge of the home area only to be unceremoniously pulled down, from the free kick Mascoll failed to hit the target.
As expected Folkestone started the second period on the front foot and had an early chance when Cornwell found himself in space but blazed the ball high and wide.Blues though had other ideas as at the other Carlos saw his goal-bound effort blocked, Watkins followed up only to see his effort again blocked; the rebound fell to Nathan Campbell who curled his shot wide of the post.
The home side were certainly seeing more of the ball as the half progressed and could easily have levelled the scores when a deep cross to the far post saw Taylor miss the target from six yards.Tangara then kept the Blues goal intact denying the combative Rook from close range .
Although coming under more pressure Blues still looked dangerous on the break; Carlos in particular was the main outlet as he powered forward and brought another good save from Chalmers –Stevens, who then made the save of the match from a close range Menga effort.
The home side were still searching desperately for the equaliser and this was reflected in their play in front of goal, Wright squandered an opportunity and then Beale really should have scored when he breezed into the box but fired wide.
Etienne Kababola came on for his first start since late October, following a hamstring injury, replacing Bishop and he was quickly into action with a driving run, but was dispossessed as he reached the home area. Mascoll then rampaged forward feeding Carlos who again was denied by Chalmers -Stevens. Cornwell at the other end went close when his clip was deflected into Tangara’s hands.
With the clock ticking down Folkestone laid siege to the Blues goal but found Terrell Forbes and Wilson equal to the task but Grays had a lucky let off when they failed to clear the ball cleanly and Pilbeam narrowly missed the target.
Blues spiritedly defended their advantage during the five minutes of added time and when the final whistle came it was to be met by a big cheer from Blues supporters, who had witnessed another steadfast performance.
The win would probably have been a game targeted by the management to secure three points,it also lifts Blues off the bottom and brings them close to the teams above them.With a series of games to come against mid table opposition Blues will have the opportunity to climb out of the relegation zone .