Worthing fall at Folkestone

Worthing fell to a disappointing opening day defeat at one of their promotion rivals, going down 3-1 at Folkestone Invicta, writes Gareth Nicholas.

Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 3:56 pm
Ollie Pearce put Worthing ahead before Folkestone took over / Picture: Marcus Hoare

Competitive debuts were handed to goalkeeper Harrison Male, centre-half Will Seager and midfielder Dean Cox, while fellow summer signing Pat Webber was on the bench.

Folkestone had the first real chance of the game after seven minutes, when a throw-in on the right led to veteran Ian Draycott warming the gloves of Male, with a low shot from the ‘D’ that the netminder fielded comfortably. The visitors' number one showed even sharper reactions shortly afterwards by blocking a powerful near post drive from the ever-dangerous Ade Yusuff.

All the goalscoring opportunities so far were being created by the home side and they threatened again with a neat build-up producing another low effort that Male stopped and held onto, to deny Ronnie Dolan just outside the eighteen yard box.

Midway through the opening period the hosts were awarded a penalty following Alfie Young’s sliding challenge on Yusuff, as he attempted to get on the end of Alfie Paxman’s low cross, after the man in stripes had seized on a loose ball and broken clear down the left wing. Reds were rescued by Male saving David Smith’s spot-kick with his legs and the danger was eventually cleared.

Only a tremendous block tackle by Seager prevented Dolan putting Invicta in front, once Yusuf had got away on the left flank and found his teammate in a tempting, centrally-placed position. Ollie Pearce narrowly failed to capitalise on a rush of blood that saw goalie Tim Roberts come out of his area to head clear as far as Pearce but the striker couldn’t quite curl his goalbound attempt into the opposite top corner.

Approaching the half-time interval, Josh Vincent came within a whisker of breaking the deadlock with a back post header from Dolan’s left-sided flag-kick that flew inches over the crossbar. Meanwhile, Worthing responded through a lively run by the recently introduced Marvin Armstrong, who had been brought on in place of the injured Seager.

He weaved his magic through the middle before bursting into the box but delaying his shot too long and Folkestone were able to get the ball away from the danger zone.

After a first 45 that had seen many people’s title favourites surprisingly fail to register a single attempt on target, that all changed in the early stages of the second as Jasper Pattenden danced his way into the box off the left-hand side, where he was clipped by captain Callum Davies.

Unfortunately for the men of Sussex, a near-identical outcome to Invicta’s earlier miss from twelve yards befell them too, with regular taker Pearce watching on in horror when his spot-kick was kept out by the hands of Roberts for the game to remain goalless.

Not for much longer though; Pearce’s set-piece magic quickly returning via a free-kick he sent up and over the defensive wall in front of him, after he himself had been felled by Davies. They say you wait ages for a bus, then two come along at once. In this case you could replace the public transport with the wait for a bulging of the onion bag. Dolan’s left-wing corner was met at the near upright by the outside of Draycott’s right boot and subsequently flicked/guided, almost nonchalantly, inside the back one to level things up.

An opportunity to go back in front presented itself to skipper Aarran Racine but he was unable to direct his header on target, at the end of a run by Reece Myles-Meekums during which he’d got the better of left-back Jordan Wright, before sending over an inviting delivery.

Instead, the boys of the Buildkent Stadium showed us how it’s done as Draycott pounced on a half-cleared ball, which he fired like a rocket towards the top corner, more than twenty yards out, to give Male no chance and restore the hosts' lead. Reds were struggling to create much at all up top and the home team made them pay by adding a third just four minutes later.

A pass over the top of the backline, specifically Young, by Yusuff resulted in Smith latching on to it, surging clear and finishing, off the outstretched leg of Male, despite the best efforts of the backtracking Young to prevent the ball crossing the line.

Two substitutes then nearly rubbed salt in the wounds when one of their own, Tyler Sterling played in fellow replacement, Kieron McCann but Male was able to hold on and ‘Stone were able to see the game out for a fully deserved three points.