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Invicta win to go top of the league

The Reds were back in SE9 on Sunday afternoon for their first home game of the new season as they hosted Stokey FC for the first time in the two Clubs history. The 2019/20 home game was originally scheduled for April but didn’t go ahead due to the national lockdown.

Hot off an impressive performance the week before away to East End Phoenix – the Gaffer looked to freshen his selection with Calum and Kieran both missing – which gave a chance to both Jamie Roose and Daniel Dawson to come into the squad for the game.

The Reds lined up with a 451 and 6 experienced substitutes on the bench

Invicta lined up with Alex Hill in goal, a back four of Daniel Crump, Scott Hollingsworth, Dean Chambers and Gary Ginnaw. A midfield four of skipper Sam Sevenoaks, Ryan Harwood, Samuel Timms and Chris Kent. With Robert Nguyen playing off Jon Allen upfront. The home side had plenty of strength in depth on the substitutes bench with Sam Bushnell, Harley Bagnall, Naomi Reid, Daniel Dawson, Jamie Roose and Colin Ginnaw making up the match day squad.

The Reds warm up ahead of kick off

The match started with the Reds looking to impose themselves on the game early on and it wasn’t long before they scored the opening goal. Samuel picked the ball up midway through the Stokey half and slid a ball through for Jon to run onto. Jon took a touch and then drove his shot passed the keeper at the near post to give the Reds an early 1-0.

The goal actually did more to galvanise the away side than it did for the home side. The Reds eased off and never really got out of second gear as they became under increasing pressure from the Stokey attack as the first half progressed.

Jon celebrated opening the scoring for the Reds

After the 20 minute mark the Reds made their first change. Dean was replaced by Sam Bushnell with Gary moving into centre back for a period. Although it wasn’t long before Dean was back on after Gary went down following a collision. The result a bloody nose which forced the Gaffer off for a spell.

Despite pressure from the away side – the Reds did create several great chances to double their lead. First a shot from the left which was superbly saved by the keeper saw Jon unable to apply the finish from the rebound. The ball bounced up awkwardly just as he was about to strike which saw the effort go over the bar. And then Chris cut in from the left wing and saw his curler effort towards the far corner narrowly miss the target. And a long throw from Chris down the left saw Robert control in the area then and go close to doubling the lead.

A corner from the right by Sam Sevenoaks was whipped in dangerously and Samuel (Timms) found himself unmarked in the middle of the goal but saw his headed effort go a yard over the bar. At the other end Alex made a fantastic point blank save to deny the away side an equaliser.

After a short water break the Reds switched things again with Gary back on for Dean and then Naomi on for Ryan to shore up the midfield. The home side couldn’t quite get the ball under control and retain possession – a feat that had been a regular part of their play over the summer. From a corner from the right it was the away side who grabbed the next goal – a long ball all the way to the far post saw a header go in despite Alex claiming a push. 1–1 and game on.

The Reds offered their own threat going forward towards the end of the half as they looked to reaffirm their lead. Samuel and Naomi were linking up in midfield and Samuel saw a long range drive narrowly miss the target. The away side were still looking dangerous on the break as they looked to punish the Reds willingness to get forward themselves.

With around ten minutes to go before half time Robert was given a break with Jamie on for his first appearance of the season. The Reds looked a little disjointed and not their familiar selves. The half time break came at a good time for the Reds who took the opportunity to switch things up and regroup as a team.

After a tighter contested first half the scores were tied at 1-1

The Reds made a couple of half time changes with Daniel Dawson on in midfield giving Jamie a break and Robert on in place of Jon upfront with Samuel moving into more of a free role ahead of the midfield pair. The instructions were to go and re-establish the lead from the off, start to take the chances being created and give everything for each other for the final 45 minutes.

The second goal duly arrived around 5 minutes into the second half. A short corner saw a ball whipped in by Chris from the right – at the far post Gary challenged for a header only to be caught by a lingering elbow. The decision – a penalty to the home side. After a few minutes Robert stepped up and calmly slotted the ball to the keepers right  to make it 2-1 to the home side.

The second goal seemed to spark the Reds into life with 2 more goals coming in quick succession. However, the Reds did have one ruled out for offside before they grabbed the third and fourth goals. Daniel Crump whipped a ball in for a Robert who made a late diagonal run in behind the away sides defence and hit his shot across the keeper and into the far bottom corner. The game stopped as it looked as though the goal would stand. After a short pause the referee decided no goal and it remained 2-1 to Invicta.

The Reds made up for the offside decision soon after. A quick long throw down on the left hand side from Chris saw Gary dart in at the near post and guide the ball past the keeper on the volley to extend the Reds lead to 3-1. And then a freekick from Daniel Dawson on the right hand side which curled over the keepers reach and into the far corner to make it 4-1.

The team celebrate Daniel Dawson’s first goal from a free kick

With the three goals going in the Gaffer saw fit to make some changes as he began to rest some players. First he took himself off around the 60 minute mark with Dean on at centre back for the remainder of the game and with Chris getting a knock after celebrating one of the goals – he too was forced off with Harley on at left wing.

The Reds continued to look dangerous on the counter attack. They attempted to just sit back and control the game but with the away side still pressing for a goal themselves – there was always space in behind. Daniel Dawson picked the ball as he approached the centre circle. Out of the left hand side Sam bushnell was already starting his run in behind – Daniel looked up and played the ball over the top for Sam to run onto.  As the keeper rushed out to try and claim – ball bounced up and Sam got their first to calmly guide a header over the keeper into the back of the net. Sam then celebrated his first ever Invicta goal in style. 5-1.

The Reds continued to maintain a high line as they press the away side

The second half water break then arrived with the Gaffer making several further changes for the last quarter of the game. Sam Sevenoaks, Samuel and Robert were all off with Jamie, Ryan and Chris all back on. Ryan  played in the pocked in front of Daniel and Naomi in midfield with Jamie the lone striker and Chris out on the right wing.

The away side continued to fight until the end and created several chances of their own. A ball into the box from the left saw the Stokey striker go close to pulling a goal back but saw his volley went narrowly wide of the target. And from a counter attack down the left wing Alex made a good point blank save with his legs with the Reds defence clearing away the rebound.

The Reds then added a 6th goal when Daniel Dawson hit what looked like a cross from the right hand side but it whipped in towards the far post and over the reach of the keeper to drop into the back of the net. In fact Daniel got the Reds last three goals. His hatrick came after a long kick from Alex which he ran onto down the left hand side – he kept the ball in play and then curled the ball all the way towards the far post and into the top corner. And he wasn’t finished there – another freekick from the left corner just outside the box was whipped in high towards the far post and bent back around to rustle into the net. 8-1.

The Reds look to add to the score late on in the second half

With Chris still struggling with his injury – he signalled for a break – so Chair Colin (with his new boots) came on for the final 15 minutes playing as the lone striker with Jamie moving to the right wing.

The Reds still had some chances late on but we’re not able to apply the finishing touch. Naomi had a goal bound header cleared off the line and Harley got himself into some good positions down the left but was not able to find the right delivery into the box.

The away side had one final chance of their own. Dean mistimed a challenge and gave away a freekick on the edge of the box. The resulting kick was up and over the wall well but didn’t drop enough and finished over the top of the cross bar. Moments later the referee blew the final whistle on an emphatic second half performance.

Full time score as Invicta hit 8 to to top of the London Unity League

After the game we caught up with the Gaffer who has this to say :

We’d like to firstly thank Stokey for a good game. It was a difficult first half. An early goal can go one of two ways – and if anything it went against us. We just didn’t get going early on. We tried to switch things up but we just couldn’t find our usual rhythm.

We created some really good chances in the first half hour but didn’t take them. It’s not that we allowed Stokey back into the game – they did that for themselves. They worked really hard in the first half and battled back well. It was a really close first 45 minutes and could have gone either way. At half time I said to the team to go out and win second half.

The three quick goals at the start of the second half just swung the game in our favour. From then on we looked calm and composed. We had some good dead ball finishes from Daniel and always looked like we could score more goals.

It was pleasing to give everyone a run out and plenty of game time today. We have another home game next week and we need to up the work rate if we want to continue our run. But it’s been a good start from the team. Everyone is enjoying their football and that really shows.

Goal Scorers : Jon Allen, Robert Nguyen, Gary Ginnaw, Daniel Dawson x4 and Sam Bushnell

Player of the Match : Daniel Dawson

Next game : home to Soho Freedom FC on Sunday 27 September 2020