Whitehawk Vs Folkestone Invicta

Published on 18 February 2024 at 12:35

The Stripes traveled down to Sussex on a cold and wet afternoon, with games being called off over the league there was some worry among supporters, but there was no pitch inspection required at Whitehawk, so it was game on! 


Folkestone came into the game having not played for 11 days after their game against Potters Bar Town was called off due to a waterlogged pitch. Meanwhile the hosts had played that weekend and were coming off the back of a one all draw with fellow relegation contenders Haringey Borough. 


Folkestone had some suspension trouble coming into the game, Seidou Sanogo's one game ban for his sending off against Cray Wanderers came into effect meaning he missed out. Toby Byron also joined Sanogo in the stands, serving the 2nd of his 3 game suspension following his sending off against league leaders Hornchurch. Ade Cole also missed out due to work commitments. 


Invicta were handed a boost in the fact that assistant Manager Chris Lynch hasn’t received a ban after his sending off in the Cray Wanderers Match. Andy Drury is still yet to receive any punishment from the FA after his questionable sending off in the Carshalton match, meaning folkestone still had their full management team intact for the game. 


Folkestone’s starting eleven looked strong, Kai Mckenzie-Lyle started in the Folkestone goal, Jake Goodman, Jason Fregene and Callum Davies started making up the Invicta back three. Davies took the captain's armband with Ian Gayle missing out through injury. Chris Sessegnon started at right wingback, Michael Kedman left wingback, making up the back five. Will Moses returned to Folkestone from his dual registration with Ashford. He made up the three man midfield alongside the stripes magic man Eddie Allsopp and Kane Penn who was pushed back into Midfield due to the absence of Ade Cole and the suspension of Seidou Sanogo. Meanwhile the strike partnership of Tom Derry and Dave Smith continued up front. Folkestone’s bench however looked considerably weaker than the starting eleven, Joe Coleman returned to the bench after the injury he picked up Vs Billericay, alongside him was under 18s Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, Fellow under 18s forward Kian Scott, Louis Collins returned to the enclosed ground to face his former side, and Andy Drury named himself on the bench due to the lack of players available on the day. 


Meanwhile Whitehawk made two changes from their draw with Haringey Borough Imran Kayani and Charlie Lambert came into the eleven to replace Luca Cocoracchio and Ryan Worrall. 


Joshua Langley-Fineing was the match referee, the only other Folkestone game he’d taken charge of this season was the FA Cup tie Vs Margate that was played at Hartsdown Park earlier in the season. 


The Stripes got us underway slightly later than the match referee may have intended after the linesman discovered a hole in the net, once a Whithawk official had been called on to repair the net we got underway at the Enclosed Ground. 


Whitehawk started the more dangerous of the two sides with Imran Kayani breaking over the halfway line and being brought down, earning the home side a free kick 2 minutes into the half. Joey Taylor stepped up to take the free kick on his left foot, he swung the ball in towards the far post and it was met by a Folkestone head, but the header was scuffed and the ball bobbled around in the penalty area, and was eventually diverted into the Folkestone net. However the linesman's flag was up to save Folkestone’s blushes and the stripes had a let off early on. 


The next real piece of action came just three minutes later and it was Folkestone’s turn to threaten the opposition's goal. Callum Davies stepped in to win the ball back in his own half, he got his head up early and played a lovely lofted ball over the top to find Folkestone’s top scorer Dave Smith in space on the right hand side. Smith still had a lot to do, and he was twisting and turning to try and get his shot goalwards. He eventually shifted the ball inside onto his left and curled one towards the far post, his effort was inches away from opening the scoring but the ball went just wide of the goalkeeper's right hand post. 


It took just 9 minutes for the first yellow card of the game, and that yellow went to Whitehawk's Joey Taylor. Jason Fregene charged forward from the back, beating three Whitehawk players and it looked like he was away on the right hand side before Joey Taylor took one for the team and brought down the Folkestone man. 


It didn’t take long for Tommy Brewer to follow his teammate into the referee’s book. Tom Derry brought the ball down and flicked it on towards Chris Sessegnon. The ball fell in between Sessegnon and Brewer and the Folkestone man got his body there first, Brewer came flying in and caught Sessegnon very late on his ankle. The referee called the Folkestone Physio on immediately and issued a yellow card to the Whitehawk man. Sessegnon was up quite quickly, he hobbled for a little while but soon ran it off and managed to continue the rest of the game. 


The next chance of the game fell Folkestone’s way, the ball found its way out to Kedman on the left hand side who beat his man and delivered the ball into the penalty area. It was cleared away by Whitehawk but only as far as Kane Penn who unleashed a shot from the edge of the area which asked a question of the Whitehawk goalkeeper Mitch Walker. Walker had the answer though, he dived away to his left and side and his outstretched left hand managed to tip the ball round the post and behind for a Folkestone corner kick. 


Callum Davies was the next name into the referee’s notebook, he stopped a promising attack down the Whitehawk right hand side and found himself cautioned by the referee. He was very eager to point out that his challenge was no where near as bad as the one Brewer had put in on his teammate earlier, but he never going to change the referees mind. 


Folkestone continued their counter attacking threat finding Smith once again on the right hand side. He beat Tennent and Morrsion and managed to get his shot away towards the far post, but he ended up scuffing his shot this time and it went well wide of the goal. 


The Hawks had the next chance in the game, and it was probably the biggest chance of the half. Kayani charged away on the left hand side and managed to get the better of Fregene for the first time in the game, he cut back inside onto his right and delivered an exquisite ball towards the far post, where O’Toole was lurking. Davies Misjudged the header and the ball fell kindly for O’Toole, who was put off by the Folkestone captain's movement, and completely scuffed the ball missing the target completely. Folkestone had a huge let off and were somehow still level in the game. 


Folkestone stepped it up a gear after this, the ball fell kindly to Chris Sessegnon who had two shots blocked before the ball fell to Allsopp on the edge of the area who looked to curl one into the left hand corner, but Mitch Walker had other ideas diving away to his right hand side to produce some real heroics to keep the game level. 


This time it was Whitehawks turn to test the Folkestone goalkeeper, Joey Taylor whipped the ball in and it was an excellent cross in for Charlie Walker who still had a lot to do, He managed to generate enough power and direct it goalwards. Kai McKenzie-Lyle produced a top quality save to keep the game level, he dived away to his right hand side to tip the ball out of the top right hand corner and behind for a Whitehawk corner. 


That was the last real action in what was an exhilarating half of football that finished goalless, but there was a lot more to come in the second forty five. 


There were no changes from either side at half time and Whitehawk got us underway for the second half kicking downhill towards the Din end. After the game I was informed by the Whitehawk media man that the Hawks very rarely lose when kicking that way in the second half, but that’s up to you to do your due diligence on that one. 


It took 10 minutes for the second half to get going, and the first chance of the half fell for Charlie walker. The ball bounced beautifully for him on the edge of the area, but his shot was high and wide and ended up at the ground. It is at this point that it is probably fair to mention that this is the only thing that Charlie Walker did wrong throughout the entirety of the second half, but more on that to come! 


However, just two minutes later Invicta had found the breakthrough. Smith Picked the Whitehawk pocket on the half way line and Folkestone had a three on three against the Hawks defense. Allsopp provided the run to the left of Smith who found Allsopp with an inch perfect pass for him to run onto. Allsopp still had a lot to do to beat Walker, but he did that no problem. He struck the ball low and hard into the right hand corner to give Folkestone the lead away from home. 


Both teams knew how important the next goal was and Folkestone were the ones to get it. Michael Kedman saw the green grass in front of him and started to stretch those lightning fast legs of his. He got level with the edge of the penalty area and played a shrewd ball in behind for Tom Derry who had got the wrong side of Joe Tennent, who inadvertently brought the Folkestone man down and the referee was left with just one decision, and pointed to the spot. 

Up stepped the coolest man in Sussex, Dave Smith slotted the ball calmly past Walker, who got a hand to it, but there was too much power on the ball and Folkestone doubled their advantage. 


Folkestone couldn’t keep that two goal advantage intact though, just three minutes later Whitehawk had the ball in the Folkestone net. Charlie Lambert played a neat ball inside to Charlie Harris, who was fresh off the bench for the Hawks, he shrewdly played the ball through the Folkestone defense and to the feet of Charlie Walker who rounded the keeper and fired into an empty net, and it was game on in Sussex. 


Folkestone should’ve put the game to bed after that, Fregene came on another marauding run forward from the back and managed to pick out Tom Derry with a low cross. Derry’s first touch neatly lifted it over the head of the defender and everyone was expecting the net to bulge, but his second touch poked it just wide of the post. A huge chance for Folkestone, and one that would come back to haunt them. 


Moments later Whitehawk were level, Charlie Harris hammered in an effort from 20 yards to force a good save from Kai McKenzie-Lyle, but the ball fell kindly to Charlie Walker who reacted quicker than the Folkestone defense, and was there to hammer to ball into an empty net for the second time, to double his and the Whitehawk goal tally. 


Folkestone reacted well though, the ball from the back found the chest of bagsman Dave Smith who flicked it up and volleyed the ball inches wide of the goal. Had that gone in, the goal of the season would’ve been wrapped up there and then!


It always felt like there was another goal in the game, it was just a matter of who was going to get it, but Whitehawk looked the most likely. The home side thought they had passed up the last chance of the game as substitute Ryan Worrall got to the byline and squared the ball back for Imran Kayani who blazed to ball over from 12 yards out, but we still had five minutes of regular time to play. 


However Folkestone had a bit more frustration before the full time whistle, Dave Smith seemed to hobble off on the eighty-fifth minute, and he was replaced by Louis Collins who returned to the Enclosed ground for the first time since leaving the Hawks. However all fans will be hoping Smith is okay for a massive game in a weeks time. 


With that nineghty minutes was up, and the referee chose to play three minutes of additional time. 


Just one minute into that, the ball was flicked into the penalty area and Rob O’Toole looked to get onto it. Jason Fregene came flying in and was adamant he got the ball. But despite his protest the referee pointed to the spot. 


Up stepped Charlie Walker, and chance to make it three for him, Three for Whitehawk, and Three points on the board. He hammered the ball down the middle of the goal, past Mckenzie-Lyle and the home fans went mental. It was ecstasy for Whitehawk, heartbreak for Folkestone, who had thrown away another two goal advantage in as many games. 


That was all we had time for, the curtain came down on what was a thrilling game of football, a game Folkestone will have been disappointed to lose. 


Eddie Allsopp picked up the Seasiders Radio Man of the Match after a fine performance from the young Folkestone Midfielder. 


Folkestone’s next game is in a week's time at the Alcaline stadium as they host fellow relegation candidates Concord Rangers at 3pm. Seasiders Radio will be live from 2.50 for all the pre match coverage as well as full match commentary. 


All eyes are on Folkestone in the week, Dean Rance has gone back to his parent club, and many fans are hoping there will be a replacement brought in, but whoever that is, make no mistake they have big boots to fill. 

Report written by Charlie Prescott

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