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Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley backs his team to start climbing back up the Isthmian Premier table ahead of match against Wingate & Finchley


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Manager Neil Cugley is backing his Folkestone side to bounce back from their FA Trophy exit as their attention switches back to their Isthmian Premier promotion push.

Invicta lost their historic fourth-round tie 5-1 to National League big spenders Wrexham.

Folkestone striker Ade Yusuff is now on 20 goals for the season after scoring one at Wrexham at the weekend and two at Chichester on Tuesday. Picture: Randolph File
Folkestone striker Ade Yusuff is now on 20 goals for the season after scoring one at Wrexham at the weekend and two at Chichester on Tuesday. Picture: Randolph File

There is a busy period in store for Invicta, who have dropped to sixth in the league, with trips to frontrunners Worthing and Potters Bar to contend with before the end of the month after hosting Wingate & Finchley this Saturday in the league.

“Welcome to non-league football - get on with it,” said Cugley, whose team won 5-3 at Chichester in the Velocity Trophy on Tuesday.

“We have two games a week for a little while now but I’m not going to feel sorry for myself or for the players. I think most of the players like to play twice a week anyway.

“They’ll bounce back, that’s how they are.

"In non-league football, you just need to move on so that’s what we will do.”

Folkestone manager Neil Cugley. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Folkestone manager Neil Cugley. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Folkestone’s FA Trophy game at the Racecourse Ground was played behind-closed-doors due to Covid regulations in Wales, although the match was live streamed, allowing both clubs to make some money from the tie.

Jordan Ponticelli struck twice while Jordan Davies, Bryce Hosannah and Kwame Thomas were also on target for Phil Parkinson’s men, with Invicta hitman Ade Yusuff’s effort no more than a second-half consolation.

Yusuff moved to 20 goals for the campaign in midweek, Ian Draycott (2) and Jordan Wright were also on target at Chichester.

Reflecting on their Trophy loss, Cugley said: “We did all right but then, obviously, their superior fitness took over.

“Their centre-forward (Ponticelli) was quality and caused us problems. First half, we did well and had a good chance but we didn’t take it - and that’s the difference.

“They were strong and had so much about them. To be fair, a couple of their goals were quality.

“Their squad is just unbelievable. They had trained all week and had a friendly, but we hadn’t played or trained for two weeks.

"It was just completely different to the level we are used to.

“If we had got the first goal, then you never know. But it was a great adventure.

“We have played Eastleigh (in the FA Cup) and we have played Wrexham this season. We now get back to the league but I hope the fans are proud of what we have achieved.

“We are right near the top of the league and have had two great cup runs.

“Hopefully, we get a good crowd on Saturday and they show the players how grateful they are for what they have done so far this season.”

Invicta also remain in the Kent Senior Cup where they have been drawn at home to VCD.

Invicta are aiming to complete the double over Wingate & Finchley at Cheriton Road, having won 4-1 away when Kieron McCann bagged a hat-trick in November.

But Cugley warned: “To be fair, they have improved since.

"Every year, you think they could get dragged down towards the bottom of the table but they tend to finish around mid-table.

“As I’ve said many times, this is a good league and there are so many good teams in it, so I’m sure they will give us a test.”

Cugley also spoke about the decision to sell centre-back Finn O’Mara to Isthmian South East leaders Hastings for an undisclosed fee.

O’Mara had been on loan with Hastings but signed a two-year contract last week.

“I spoke to Finn and he said he liked it there, he wants to play regularly,” said Cugley.

“We wish him all the best.

"Financially, we think we have done well. So it’s a deal that works for all parties.”

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