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Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley eyes unbeaten finish to Isthmian Premier season as his team try to make the play-offs


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Folkestone manager Neil Cugley is eyeing an unbeaten finish to the league season as his side look to make the play-offs.

Sixth-placed Invicta were on a five-match losing run and had not won in six in all competitions, a run which has seen them drop out of the top five in the Isthmian Premier, before Tuesday's 3-1 win over Ebbsfleet in their Kent Senior Cup quarter-final tie.

Folkestone boss Neil Cugley. Picture: Randolph File
Folkestone boss Neil Cugley. Picture: Randolph File

Cugley said: “I think (we need) a minimum of 10 points from the last four games - although we might need to win all four!

“Luke Wanadio didn’t play on Saturday but hopefully he will be back this weekend. We are getting back to having a full-strength squad.

“It’s up to us now.

"The league table will not lie at the end of the season. We will give everything we can.”

Cugley’s men were beaten 3-0 last Saturday at second-placed Bishop’s Stortford, who have not lost since January, and the Invicta boss rated their opponents highly.

He reflected: “It was tough. I thought there was nothing much between the sides in the first half, but they have got a quality side.

Striker Dave Smith scored his 29th goal of the season for Invicta as they beat Ebbsfleet in the Kent Senior Cup on Tuesday. Picture: Randolph File
Striker Dave Smith scored his 29th goal of the season for Invicta as they beat Ebbsfleet in the Kent Senior Cup on Tuesday. Picture: Randolph File

“They are very good. They are one of the best teams we have played, maybe not necessarily football-wise like (leaders) Worthing, but they have gone 10 games without conceding a goal.

“That’s a heck of an achievement at this level. We felt we were always in the game and I don’t think it was a 3-0 scoreline sort of game.”

On his team’s poor run, Cugley added: “Everyone goes through a bad spell, it’s just a shame it’s come when it has for us.

“The injuries and the travelling and the fixture congestion have caught up with us. We have almost been punished for having cup runs.

“I thought we had enough players, we had 17 players. But, looking back, we probably needed a squad of 20-plus to cope with the injuries that we have had.

Ian Draycott, left, has recently returned from injury and was also on the scoresheet against Ebbsfleet. Picture: Randolph File
Ian Draycott, left, has recently returned from injury and was also on the scoresheet against Ebbsfleet. Picture: Randolph File

“But at the end of the day, sometimes, financially, you need to be a bit careful.

“With things like the Jordan Wright injury (a broken leg), it’s been a tough few weeks but you have to give credit to the players.”

Invicta welcome 13th-placed Corinthian Casuals to Cheriton Road on Saturday, boosted by the return of all-time leading scorer Ian Draycott (broken wrist), who came off the bench at Bishop’s Stortford.

He struck in the midweek win against Ebbsfleet while midfielder Simo Mbonwki and striker Dave Smith, with his 29th goal this season, were also on target.

“It’s about winning, it’s all about winning games now,” Cugley stated.

“It’s a massive game.

“There’s no real pressure on them. They have had a good season but we are looking forward to it.

"Hopefully, there is another big crowd and they get behind the players and we can get over the line.”

Mbonkwi, on dual-registration from National League South Braintree, impressed in Invicta’s 3-2 defeat at Horsham last Tuesday, but Mbonkwi started for Braintree against Hampton at the weekend before making his home debut against Ebbsfleet.

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