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Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley admits players let themselves down in FA Cup defeat to Kings Langley

Neil Cugley questioned his Folkestone team’s mental strength after their disappointing FA Cup exit at Kings Langley on Saturday.

Invicta, top and unbeaten in the Isthmian Premier, went down 4-0 to their Southern League Premier Division Central rivals and manager Cugley admits they were as bad as they’ve been for some time.

Asked if he had seen the defeat coming – Invicta’s first since March 23 – Cugley said: “No I didn’t but you can’t argue with 4-0 can you?

Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley Picture: Chris Davey
Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley Picture: Chris Davey

“(Goalkeeper) Tim Roberts did all right, but the rest of the team and the subs were mostly awful.

“The defenders did not defend, the midfield did not get tight enough and we missed chance after chance – good chances as well. The whole day was horrible.

“It seems to be whenever expectation comes on us we struggle.

“This team, bar one or two players, has been together for three years and during that time they have been fantastic.

“We got into the play-offs two years ago, missed out by a point last season and now we’re top.

“The disappointment comes when we are expected to do well we don’t do ourselves justice.”

Cugley doesn’t feel his players have a problem playing big games when they are underdogs. It’s when the roles are reversed their performances seem to suffer.

He explained: “It’s never a problem when we play big clubs and we’re the underdog.

“There’s nothing to lose but when the expectation comes on us, it seems to hit them a little bit.

“It happened at (relegated) Burgess Hill last year (Invicta lost 1-0 in the FA Cup first qualifying round), Slough before that (in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round) and the play-off semi-final against Hendon (they were beaten 4-0 in May 2018 with all the goals coming in the first 45 minutes).

“I expected us to do well in that game but were terrible and it’s something we need to put right. Are we mentally strong enough? Those results suggest not.”

Cugley admitted there were few positives to come out of the cup defeat, although he was pleased to see striker Ian Draycott back in the squad after his long-term wrist problem.

Invicta resume their league campaign at Wingate & Finchley on Saturday before travelling to second-placed AFC Hornchurch on Tuesday.

Cugley says the games provide them with the perfect opportunity to show their mettle.

He said: “We let ourselves down on Saturday but we’ve got two big away games coming up and it will be interesting to see how the players react.

“Most of the players, I think 14 out of the 17, have come up from the league below and have done brilliantly to get to the top of the league, but the question is can we go on from here?

"Last year when Dorking went top they blitzed it, they were strong and confident and had something about them. We need to be the same.”

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