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Long-serving Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley says the club are in the best position they have been in for decades

Boss Neil Cugley believes Folkestone are in the best position the club have been in for decades.

Cugley’s men are flying high towards the top of the Isthmian Premier once again and are into the second qualifying round in the FA Cup, where they will meet lower-league opposition.

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

Things are going well off-the-field, too. Their two league encounters at Cheriton Road this season have attracted a combined total of 1,675 fans, and Cugley is keen to get another healthy attendance when they host Horsham this Saturday.

The long-serving manager, who first took charge in 1997, said: “This is one of the best times we have had at the club for decades.

“We are in a really good position. The pitch is great, the bar is nice and we are hoping to get new floodlights soon.

“There is the other pressure that goes with it. As a manager, it is great but the fans have come to see your team win so you need to win to keep them happy.

“But I would rather have that sort of pressure than have less fans there.”

Kieron McCann is set for a spell on the sidelines following an operation. Picture: Andy Jones
Kieron McCann is set for a spell on the sidelines following an operation. Picture: Andy Jones

Folkestone’s finances were given another boost last weekend when they won at Corinthian 3-2 in the FA Cup with striker Ade Yusuff, Ronnie Dolan and Alfie Paxman on target, earning the club £2,250 in prize money.

They have been drawn away to Ashford Town (Middlesex) from the Isthmian South Central in the next round.

Ashford were previously in the same league as Folkestone but it has been quite some time since the clubs last met.

Cugley said: “Obviously, we will have them watched. It’s quite an open ground that they have.

“It would have been a great draw at home but away it’s still a very good draw.

“There are some really difficult sides in there now from National League South - the likes of Dartford, Maidstone and Ebbsfleet - so we have got to be pleased to get a team from the league below.”

For now, though, third-placed Invicta’s focus is back on league matters.

Dominic Di Paola’s Horsham lost their first two league fixtures but have since beaten Merstham and drawn at Lewes before a 1-1 FA Cup draw with Haywards Heath.

Cugley said: “Horsham are a very good side. I don’t think they will be too far away.

“I think they bring a few fans as well, so I’m looking forward to it. The longer we can keep our unbeaten start going, the better.

“They will be well-organised and will have some experienced players at this level, some having played for Burgess Hill and some at Dorking.”

Aaron Simpson is likely to remain unavailable having had long Covid and winger Kieron McCann (knee) is set to be sidelined following an operation.

Cugley added: “That will keep him out until the end of October but he is a fit lad, so I’m not overly worried.”

Folkestone will visit East Thurrock on Tuesday.

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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