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Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley says increased budget is needed to avoid going backwards

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Folkestone manager Neil Cugley is set to have more money to play with as he looks to build on their “most successful season”.

A heavy schedule ultimately took its toll as Invicta slipped out of the Isthmian Premier play-off places, finishing four points adrift in sixth.

Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley Picture: Randolph File
Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley Picture: Randolph File

As well as balancing league commitments, they reached the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup and the FA Trophy fourth round.

They also made the semi-finals of the Velocity Trophy and visit Hythe in the last four of the Kent Senior Cup tonight (Wednesday).

They need a bigger squad and Cugley hopes to get the nod from chairman Paul Morgan to boost numbers.

“Five competitions may be too many for a small squad,” said Cugley.

“If you’re only going after promotion or the play-offs, it might help to be out of the cups but we were in everything. We’ve had an amazing season.

“It may not feel like that because of the disappointment of the last few weeks in missing out on the play-offs but it’s been tremendous.

“It may be our most successful ever in the sense that we’ve had a run in every competition and finished sixth in the league.

“I think we need to look at a bigger squad. I’ve met with the chairman and there’s talk of a budget increase, which would help. If you don’t, you just go backwards.

“To be fair, the chairman knows what sort of money we need and I’m hoping he’ll give me the OK to run with a bigger squad.

“He’s realised the budget isn’t high enough.

“Everyone seems to have a few more bob now and we need to try and keep up with that. If you don’t, you slip down.

“You’ve still got to pay the ones you’ve got and not many players say ‘I can take less’.”

David Smith scored a hat-trick on the final day of the league season with Ade Yusuff also on target as Folkestone drew 4-4 at Haringey Borough on Saturday.

Smith’s treble took his tally to 33 and Cugley hopes the prolific striker will stay at Cheriton Road.

“It’s his first proper season of playing regular football at this level,” said Cugley. “There’s still things I think he can improve on but he’s done well and he’s a great lad, a really nice person.

“What he doesn’t want to do is go somewhere and not play, which is what he’s done before.

“It’s done him the world of good to be in the side here.

“I’ve always said the way we play will benefit forwards because we get the ball to them early.

“What will be, will be, but he’s contracted with us, he’s under 24, so if someone comes in we’ll get compensated. But I hope he stays.”

There was no shortage of entertainment at Haringey, where Invicta twice blew a two-goal lead.

It was a case of two attacking sides doing what they do best in serving up a final-day thriller.

“They go out to attack, and we’re the same,” said Cugley. “We’ve scored four but, ironically enough, I’m disappointed we didn’t score more because we had the chances.

“There was nothing on the game for us which was a shame but for entertainment it’s a game that can be talked about. It was good fun.”

Alfie Paxman was named players’ player-of-the-year, supporters’ player-of-the-year and young player-of-the-year at Invicta’s end-of-season presentation.

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