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Folkestone Invicta enjoying competitive start to the season in league and cup

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Folkestone’s long-serving manager Neil Cugley can’t recall his team making a better start to a campaign.

Cugley, in his 24th season at the helm, has seen his side make good progress in the major cup competitions and challenge the top teams in the Isthmian Premier Division.

Folkestone manager Neil Cugley has money to spend after cup success Picture: Randolph File
Folkestone manager Neil Cugley has money to spend after cup success Picture: Randolph File

Big crowds and cup success has also brought in much-needed money, so much so that he even has the opportunity to bring extra players in if he wants to.

But given how well they are doing, he is no rush to spend those profits right away.

He said: “It has been a tremendous start for us, with the FA Cup run and now the FA Trophy, we have only lost two games and all credit to the players.

“Apart from the Carshalton game (losing 5-0) we have been all right. We are still in the Trophy and lost in extra-time in the FA Cup to a Conference side (Eastleigh).

“I have been in the job a long, long time and I don’t think I have had a better start than this. I can’t think of one. It has been really good.

“We have a small squad and a couple of injuries, but we have generally got through it.

“Doing well in the FA Cup has helped financially and we are in a situation where we could bring a player or two in but it has to be the right players and better than we have got.

“The whole club is doing well, it is really pleasing, beyond our wildest dreams in some ways the way everything has gone.”

Folkestone continued their progress in the FA Trophy with a 2-0 away win at Southern League Premier side Hartley Wintney on Saturday.

They have been drawn at home against Isthmian South Central side Uxbridge in round three. That tie is due to be played on December 18.

Cugley said: “It was one of those Saturdays, windy, the pitch was a bit sticky, but ironically we scored two really good goals, considering the conditions.

“It was a deserved win, they threw everything at us in the last few minutes, but we are delighted to get through, it’s a few more bob for the club.”

Ade Yusuff struck a well-taken opener in the first half and Alfie Paxman won possession before playing in Scott Heard to double the lead.

Folkestone now face two big challenges in the league.

First up on Saturday is away at second-placed Enfield Town, a side who haven’t lost at home this season. They then make a welcome return to the Buildkent Stadium on Tuesday night with a visit from Bishop’s Stortford, a team sitting one point and one place behind them in sixth.

Cugley said: “It is a good league this year and Enfield are definitely a team that won’t be far away. It will be a difficult one, but then we have another difficult one on the Tuesday against Bishop’s Stortford.”

The trip to Enfield will be Folkestone’s fifth game on the road in a row.

Cugley added: “It has been difficult for the players but all credit to them, they have come through it and after Saturday we get back to a bit more normality. The driving around all over the place, as part-time players, can be quite hard, especially midweek games.”

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