Isthmian Premier Division Sat 15 February The Crucial Environmental Stadium
Folkestone Invicta
  • Jackson (87')

A slightly more familiar-looking line-up, following the Velocity Trophy exit to Cheshunt, took to the pitch against old foes, Folkestone Invicta; as Ollie Pearce was preferred up front to Kieron Pamment and Dulwich debutant Connor Hunte came straight in for the suspended Jesse Starkey, in the only changes from the defeat to Cray.

The game got off to a fast start in front of a bumper and expectant crowd; Reece Myles-Meekums being set free down the left by Ricky Aguiar’s quickly-taken free-kick after only six minutes; darting into the box and dragging back inside Scott Heard but firing over.

A second set-piece from Aguiar resulted in his whipped delivery coming within millimetres of a diving Joel Colbran getting a vital touch off his head and Meekums featured again, at the end of a forward surge over the halfway line by Danny Barker that gave him the opportunity to run at Finn O’Mara and squeeze in a byline cross, which a covering Michael Everitt managed to deflect behind for a corner.

Carl Rushworth then made Barcelona’s rumoured £4 million bid look derisory; pulling off a magnificent save to claw Everitt’s point-blank header over the bar from Heard’s precise right wing free-kick.

Set-pieces were a dominant feature of the first-half and the next one flew at tremendous speed, agonisingly close to Tim Robert’s top corner, as Aguiar tried his luck again, from thirty yards.

Shortly afterwards, he got his eye in again, following tenacious work in the middle of the park by Fin Stevens, who got the better of Jackson and released Meekums on the left. His initial cross came back to him via Everitt so he teed-up Ricky for a long-range blast that flashed the wrong side of the far post.

Aarran Racine breathed a huge sigh of relief when he tried to guide a huge Roberts clearance back to his ‘keeper, from in front of the away dugout but only succeeded in giving the ball straight to Jerson Dos Santos. The forward burst down the right flank before rounding Rushworth and just running out of room, with his byline shot hitting the side-netting.

The same player then had an even better chance in the embryonic stages of the second period, when Jackson got clear on the right and slipped him in, though he drove his effort too close to our formidable number one.

Dos Santos returned the favour a few minutes later, although excellent defending by Stevens saw him get a vital boot on the ball to concede a corner.

He only had himself to blame when a huge kick downfield by Roberts led to an awkward bounce that Joel Colbran inadvertently backheaded to the Folkestone ten; who did his best to divert Storm Dennis with the height of his subsequent first-time volley from the edge of the area.

New signing, Hunte almost laid on the opening goal when he floated a free-kick into the danger zone and Racine was a toenail away from connecting at the hind upright. While Pearce similarly missed the target by a whisker, with Aguiar the provider when an Invicta throw-in by their own corner flag went over everyone’s head, straight to the midfielder.

Carl caught a Tyler Sterling stinger that threatened to creep in the top corner, after Alex Parsons was bundled off the ball in the inside-left channel and Heard blocked a powerfully-struck attempt by substitute, Lloyd Dawes once Racine had done the donkey work.

Fellow replacement, Ian Draycott wasted a good opening, at the end of an otherwise meaningful run, before Jackson took matters into his own hands to threaten the home goal not once, not twice but three times, with Stevens once more timing his tackle to perfection to deny the visitor’s top scorer on the second of those occasions. His third effort a low, fizzing free-kick that whistled past the post.

A couple of near misses from Aguiar, due to a heavy touch and Dawes, inches away from latching onto a long ball, resulted in Roberts gathering safely as it looked like the points were going to be shared.

However, with just three or four minutes to go, Colbran’s throw-in from deep inside his own half sailed over the head of sub, Pamment with Nat Blanks – who hadn’t been on long either – the grateful recipient. He immediately found Kieron McCann and referee, Andy Bennett allowed play to go on, despite a foul on the eleven by his opposite number, Hunte as Johan Ter Horst fed Heard and he then repeated the move, to Jackson. He drifted to the right of the penalty area and arrowed in an effort that appeared to get either a nick off the heel of Stevens, or rear up off the turf and, although Rushworth got a strong hand to the ball, on this occasion, even he couldn’t keep it out as it finished a fraction inside the back stick.

One final chance for each team produced a first-time volley from the ‘D’ by Pamment, following Aguiar’s deep free-kick into the goalmouth, that was nodded out as far as him by Captain, Matt Newman and a lucky break off Parsons – via yet another booming kick from Roberts – falling nicely for Jackson to potentially seal the points but, after cutting across Alfie Young on the edge of the penalty area and getting a fortuitous flick off Fin (Stevens,) the end result went straight to Rushworth, who fielded at the second time of asking.