Boss Danny Bloor was delighted with his side’s best defensive performance of the season at The Saffrons on Saturday.
Town ‘keeper Kieron Thorp produced a string of fine saves in the second-half to ensure his side earned a point. Bloor hailed Thorp’s and his back-four’s performance as “absolutely outstanding”.
Town were made to work hard by Folkestone, especially after losing Kai Bichard (pictured) for a second bookable offence in the 60th minute. Few chances were created in a timid first-half in blustery conditions not too different to those in October for the reverse fixture which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Folkestone’s James Everitt had two goal-bound headers in 10 minutes. The first in the 21st minute was weak and the second, from a Josh Burchell free-kick, was smothered by Thorp.
Town’s Nathan Crabb nearly went in on goal from a quick free-kick in the 38th minute but Folkestone’s ‘keeper Jack Delo was sharp to clear before Crabb could capitalise.
The second-half was slow in getting going but after the sending off, high-flying Folkestone were made to rue a host of missed chances as Bloor’s side stood strong against an onslaught.
The Kent side were up against an inspired Thorp who touched over a 25-yard drive from Darren Smith in the 51st minute. He then palmed away a James Everitt volley seven minutes later.
Incredibly Thorp’s opposite number Delo went close to scoring when he pumped upfield the resultant free-kick from Bichard’s second yellow. It took a wild bounce before Thorp, who tipped over.
But Thorp’s best moment was to come from a bullet header by Smith in the 70th minute. He somehow reacted and clawed it away, to the appreciation of his teammates.
This was not the end of Folkestone’s pressing and Thorp was called into action in the 77th minute when top-scorer Stuart King neatly turned a Town defender to feed Smith, who struck first time but Thorp deflected over.
Folkestone continued to create opportunities and their clearest was headed wide at the back-post by Burchell from four yards in the 88th minute.
Dramatically in injury-time Town sub Aaron Hopkinson went through on goal but was booked for simulation after tangling with a defender.
Bloor believes this was incorrect. He said, “Everyone is adamant we should have had a penalty when Aaron was hauled down.”
But he was pleased with the point. He added, “We’ve got a settled backline. Sometimes you need to roll your sleeves up. We did that.
“To play with 10 men and keep a clean sheet is delightful. I’m really proud of my players.”
Town: Thorp 8, Davidson 7, Storrie 7, Elliot 7, Fogden 7, May 7, Curd 6 (Hopkinson 85’), Kirkwood 7 (Denton 76’), Bichard 5, Crabb N. 6, Geard 7 (Crabb S. 72)
Subs not used: Kessack, Graves
Booked: Bichard (2) Kirkwood, Fogden, Hopkinson
Sent-off: Bicard Referee: Michael O’Keefe MoM: Kieron Thorp – encapsulated his side’s superb defensive display