After finishing the 2015/16 season with five league wins in seven, a hard (but successful) pre-season, a summer of tournament and friendly wins, new training facilities at the CAFC Training Ground (Sparrows Lane) and the influx of players joining the squad – there was optimism around Bexley Invicta FC and rightly so! The Club appeared to be on the up.
Any football manager will tell you that bringing in new faces and trying to gel a team together isn’t easy and takes time. After a tricky start which saw the club lose 3-0 away to Titans XXL on the opening day of the season and then follow that game with a disappointing 5-3 loss away to pace setters Falcons the Club was rooted to the foot of the table.
Our first league game at Sparrows Lane against Stonewall 3rds came next and the squad was desperate to get some points on the board. Despite hitting the woodwork at least 5 times in the first 45 minutes it was the visitors who left Sparrows Lane with all three points. Back in the changing room everyone was thinking “how did we lose that game!?”. Three league games and three defeats was not the start anyone had hoped for following an encouraging pre-season where the team was playing well and we had beaten established teams.
The whole squad was determined to get our first points of the season and on Sunday 30th October 2016 headed to White Hart Lane Community Centre to face a strong Romans Manor House FC side having worked even harder in training. The game did not start as planned and we found ourselves 2-0 down in less than ten minutes. The game ended 2-2 after some resilient defending and some great attacking play. It felt like we had turned a corner.
A week later saw London Falcons visit Sparrows Lane and complete a league double over BIFC with a 3-2 win. Five league games into the campaign and only the solitary point to show for the efforts.
The players had been working hard in training and whilst recent results hadn’t been what anyone was hoping for, there was a real belief amongst the squad that our first win wasn’t far away and that we would get that little bit of luck that would turn a game in our favour. With this in mind, the team headed to Regents Park to face Soho FC on 13 November 2016. This was a team that BIFC had not beaten in the league. After a solid start the team were coasting at 4-1. Soho managed to claw a couple of goals back but the BIFC boys hung on for a valuable 4-3 away win. A fantastic result and the season was up and running! The result reflected the belief and attitude that squad had been applying at the training ground.
A subsequent set back the following week at home to reining league champions, Roman’s Gladiators FC, proved to be the Clubs last league reverse – since then the record reads played five and won five. A tricky pre-Christmas trip to bottom club Titans 2Brewers saw the Bexley boys grind out a 2-1 win to lift them up the table. The lads were in positive mood as the Club celebrated Christmas in true Bexley fashion – a mad one at Zens.
With no league games scheduled for the first two weekends in January Team Manager, Gary Ginnaw, arranged two friendly games to keep match fitness up, especially after the Christmas festivities and indulgence. A home match against Trowbridge Tigers FC on Sunday 8 January 2017 provided a stern test and enabled some much needed squad rotation. The end result was a very enjoyable 5-4 victory with Colin Ginnaw scoring his first Bexley goal with his first touch of the ball after coming on from the substitutes bench – not bad for an old boy! A week later two Bexley teams lined up against each other to mark the Clubs 6th Birthday! We will keep the score a secret but you can rest assured Bexley Invicta won! But a full 90 minutes for all players concerned was all important!
Back to the league and on Sunday 22 January 2017 saw another Bexley Invicta milestone – the club’s first league win at Sparrows Lane. More importantly, the club rose to 5th place having earned back to back wins. Sunday 29th January 2017 saw the Clubs 3rd successive league win – 2-0 away to East End Phoenix – a result which marked Bexley Invicta FCs first ever away league clean sheet! The club had climbed to 4th in the table!
And so to the record for successive league wins – the setting was Barn Elms, home to Stonewall FC. On a day when both clubs showed support for the Stonewall Rainbow Laces campaign, the Football v Homophobia campaign and for one another. The end result was 2-1 to Bexley Invicta and with that came a 4th successive league win for the first time in the Clubs short but proud history. A remarkable achievement!
Following that achievement BIFC were in high spirits for their next league game and on Sunday 12 February 2017 welcomed both East End Phoenix FC and Sky News to Sparrows Lane. Check out the link to the Sky News report here. A competitive game against our closest rivals (geographically) saw Bexley Invicta run out 5-2 winners – extending their impressive form to a five game winning streak.
After the Phoenix game BIFC Team Manager Gary Ginnaw said “I would like to go on record and give my thanks to all the players for their continued hard work. Five successive league wins and six wins from the last seven league games is no fluke. They’ve worked hard in training, they turn up week in and week out whatever the weather and don’t let their heads drop. We didn’t have the best start to the campaign but we kept going and together we have turned our season around. We have a positive dressing room, everyone is enjoying their football and special thanks have to be given to the Charlton Athletic Community Trust for their continued support! We have 5 league games remaining and I’m asking for a big effort from all our players to ensure we set one more record this season – the club’s highest ever London Unity League finish!”
This leads us on to our next game which is against Romans Manor House – a game which both teams have agreed to dedicate to Football v Homophobia’s ‘February Month of Action’ campaign. Hopefully the winning run will continue!