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Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley wary of threat posed by Kent rivals Margate ahead of Isthmian Premier clash at Hartsdown Park


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Folkestone manager Neil Cugley reckons Kent rivals Margate are as good as anyone in Isthmian Premier on their day.

Second-placed Invicta visit Margate on New Year’s Day before hosting basement boys Leatherhead two days later, with Folkestone seven points behind leaders Worthing with a game in hand.

Folkestone striker Ade Yusuff drives at the Merstham defence during Invicta's 6-1 win on Monday. Picture: Randolph File
Folkestone striker Ade Yusuff drives at the Merstham defence during Invicta's 6-1 win on Monday. Picture: Randolph File

Jay Saunders’ Gate side are eighth, six points adrift of the play-offs, after they earned a 3-2 victory at Cray Wanderers on Monday, with the Wands parting company with player-manager Danny Kedwell following that defeat.

“They are a good side. I saw them beat Worthing and they were outstanding,” admitted Cugley.

“I still think they will not be far away from the play-offs come the end of the season. They have got a great manager in Jay.

“They are a bit inconsistent but, if you get the good Margate, they are as good as anyone in the league.

“It’s never an easy place to go. We have got a few Covid and injury issues to deal with at the moment, but I’m sure every club does.

"Then we have the big banana skin of playing bottom of the league on Monday straight after that.”

Folkestone's Scott Heard battles for the ball. Picture: Randolph File
Folkestone's Scott Heard battles for the ball. Picture: Randolph File

Folkestone go into the match after a comprehensive 6-1 home win over Merstham on Monday.

There were six different scorers, too, with Matt Newman, Josh Vincent, Scott Heard, Dave Smith, Ade Yusuff and youth product Lenny Atherton - with his first senior goal - on target. Merstham also had Michael Olarewaju sent off in the second half.

Cugley, who thanked the 836 fans who turned out at Cheriton Road, said: “I think, with how we play, we are quite open. So people can get forward.

“Heardy has got quite a few from midfield this season. JV is quite a prolific goalscorer for a right-back as well. It’s good.”

Folkestone's Dave Smith controls the ball under pressure. Picture: Randolph File
Folkestone's Dave Smith controls the ball under pressure. Picture: Randolph File

On Atherton’s goal, Cugley added: “When everything is going so nicely, it’s nice to be able to put on the young players.

“Believe me, your first senior goal is something you will never forget. I know because I remember my first one - that must be nearly 50 years ago now!

“He is a lad we will keep trying to use when we can.”

Cugley admits some of the shine of Folkestone’s FA Trophy draw with National League Wrexham has been taken off by the Welsh government’s decision to ban spectators.

The rules are set to be reviewed on January 9 - six days before the match is scheduled to take place - but the game will be behind closed doors as things stand.

Cugley said: “It will be great to play at that sort of stadium whatever the circumstances but we will be bitterly disappointed if the fans cannot go.

“One minute, it was a tremendous draw, then it became an all right draw.

“Financially, it will be a bit of a shame but we cannot do anything about it.”

Ryan Johnson (groin) came off against Merstham and is expected to be out for a couple of weeks while Jordan Wright has had Covid.

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