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Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley says players owe the club's supporters a response as they welcome Lewes to Cheriton Road


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Manager Neil Cugley thinks Folkestone’s players owe the club’s supporters a response this Saturday.

Fifth-placed Invicta host Lewes in another potentially pivotal match in the race for the Isthmian Premier play-off positions.

Kieron McCann on the ball during Folkestone's weekend defeat to Cheshunt. Picture: Randolph File
Kieron McCann on the ball during Folkestone's weekend defeat to Cheshunt. Picture: Randolph File

With seven league matches to go, six points separate the sides after a tough week for Folkestone.

They suffered their first home league loss last Saturday, going down 4-0 to Cheshunt, before a heavy defeat in their Velocity Trophy semi-final to Horsham on Tuesday night.

“It’s a really important game,” said Cugley, whose team were beaten 5-0 at Horsham.

"I think we owe the fans a response.

“When you are a local manager, it feels like you have let a lot of people down. But Cheshunt were a very good side.

“We now need to pick ourselves up.”

Midfielder Scott Heard looks for options. Picture: Randolph File
Midfielder Scott Heard looks for options. Picture: Randolph File

Injury-hit Invicta had only lost once at Cheriton Road this term prior to the weekend - going down 3-2 in extra-time to National League Eastleigh in the FA Cup - but simply were not at the races.

Their most recent home league defeat before then was a 3-1 loss to Cray Wanderers in September 2020.

Cugley reflected: “To be fair, they played the conditions a lot better than we did.

“It was windy and a bit like our last defeat against Hornchurch actually. We just didn’t adapt.

“I felt we didn’t really play the conditions but, to be fair, they used them well. They are strong and very experienced.

Concentration etched across Ryan Johnson's face. Picture: Randolph File
Concentration etched across Ryan Johnson's face. Picture: Randolph File

“I feel the players let me down a little bit. I don’t think we had a shot on target - you have to be very disappointed with that when playing at home.

“It’s something we have got to look at improving but we have had an unbelievable season."

With versatile player Jordan Wright already out with a broken leg, Folkestone also missed Ade Yusuff (hamstring) and all-time leading scorer Ian Draycott (broken wrist) against Cheshunt, while Dartford loanee Luke Wanadio limped off at Horsham as Invicta missed out on a final against Kent rivals Margate. They beat Haringey 3-2.

The club have also lost the services of experienced midfielder Andy Drury who was appointed the new manager of Isthmian South East strugglers Whitstable on Monday.

Cugley, who had hoped to sign a player this week ahead of today's Isthmian League deadline even prior to 38-year-old Drury's departure, conceded: “We were a little bit short on numbers. But all credit to our club who still pay players even when they are injured.

“The club is always good like that, I think it’s the right thing to do (paying injured players).”

Dave Smith battles a Cheshunt player for the ball as Luke Wanadio watches on. Picture: Randolph File
Dave Smith battles a Cheshunt player for the ball as Luke Wanadio watches on. Picture: Randolph File

Yusuff, who started last Tuesday’s 2-2 draw at Brightlingsea, has scored 25 goals this season and Cugley hopes he will be back against Lewes.

Speaking on Monday, he added: “Ade is a big miss. He said he was fit on Tuesday (at Brightlingsea) but I don’t know if he was.

“Hopefully, he will be fit for Saturday. We are going to get injuries at this time of year.

“Heardy (midfielder Scott Heard) has come on in the last couple of games, and we are a better side with Ade and Heardy.”

It is hoped Draycott will be fit to return early next month.

Folkestone visit Horsham again on Tuesday, this time for a league fixture.

With the Lewes match falling on Non-League Day, the club will offer season ticket-holders of Premier League and Football League clubs free entry.

Anyone interested simply will need to present their season ticket.

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