Published: 09:02, 20 October 2021
| Updated: 16:43, 20 October 2021
Boss Neil Cugley admits even he is not sure if he has seen anything quite like Folkestone’s remarkable comeback in their FA Cup fourth qualifying replay against Eastleigh on Tuesday night.
Folkestone were up against it after 58 minutes, trailing 2-0 to their higher-league opponents and down to 10 men after defender Josh Vincent’s sending off.
But second-half efforts from striker Ade Yusuff and midfielder Scott Heard took the tie to extra-time.
Out on their feet against National League full-time outfit Eastleigh, heroic Folkestone defending almost saw them take the game all the way to penalties, only for Ben House to score the all-important fifth goal six minutes from the death.
But Cugley said he was proud of how Folkestone had played at the Fullicks Stadium in front of a bumper crowd of 1,237, their best attendance for a competitive game in five years.
He said: “I’m a bit choked really. I’m just so pleased with the players.
“As they did on Saturday (when the sides drew the original tie 3-3), they all played well.
“When you get a lot of people for a big game, you hope the players respond and do well. They can all go away and be really proud of what they have achieved.
“It’s amazing to come from 2-0 down with 10 men. It’s a shame the winning goal was a bit scrappy but, generally, I thought everybody was brilliant.
“It was a brilliant effort, I have never known anything like it!
"I thought some of the football we played was really good as well.
“You wouldn’t have really noticed that we had 10 men.
“They are full-time but some of our football was really good stuff.”
Goals from Eastleigh men Tom Whelan and Jake Hesketh saw them take control before Folkestone fought back.
But the Spitfires retook the lead in extra-time when House expertly volleyed into the bottom corner.
The Folkestone fightback came after fourth official Peter Conn, who replaced referee Robert Whitton in the first half, had dismissed Vincent as he picked up two bookings in a matter of moments.
On the sending off, Cugley said: “It’s the modern way, isn’t it? They (referees) are very quick to send people off.
“I just think it’s a bit of a shame. It spoils it for the fans, really.
“It's not just when it happens to my players. When other people get sent off, I just think we are a bit too quick to get people sent off now.”
It was Folkestone's biggest crowd for a competitive game since a 6-0 win over Walton & Hersham in 2016.
They return to Isthmian Premier action this Saturday when they host Kingstonian.