Published: 05:00, 13 October 2021
| Updated: 12:55, 14 October 2021
Neil Cugley is eyeing an FA Cup upset against National League Eastleigh this Saturday - despite admitting he was initially disappointed with the draw.
Folkestone Invicta will aim to earn a spot in the first round against a side from two divisions above, having already beaten National League North Gloucester City 1-0, Ashford Town (Middlesex) 7-2 and Corinthian 3-2 in the cup competition this season.
A trip to the Silverlake Stadium is a third away tie in four games in the competition for Cugley’s men.
But Eastleigh’s average league attendances have been just under 2,000 and the Folkestone boss is hoping there will be another big crowd that can help create a good atmosphere for the cup tie.
“At the time, when I first saw the draw, I was a bit disappointed to be drawn away from home,” admitted Cugley.
“But when you look at the crowds they get, they’re pretty good.
“We went there a few years ago (Eastleigh beat Folkestone 2-1 in the FA Trophy in 2010) and it was a tidy ground but, now, it looks like a Football League ground.”
Folkestone had been due to play Cray Wanderers tonight in the league but that has been rearranged, giving Cugley’s men a full week to prepare for the tie.
Cugley said: “We will get ready to go there and give everything we can to see if we can cause an upset.
“Nine out of 10 times they will win, but it’s that one time that makes the FA Cup so special.”
Fifth-placed Folkestone go into the encounter after a 5-1 home success over Brightlingsea Regent in Isthmian Premier, watched by a 908-strong crowd.
Cugley said: “It was really pleasing.
“We got an unbelievable crowd and scored some good goals. That helps to keep the crowd happy.”
Man-of-the-match Alfie Paxman scored twice and set up two more. Midfielder Scott Heard, striker David Smith and Oliver Freeman also netted.
On Paxman’s performance, Cugley said: “To be fair to Alfie, he was back to his old self.
“He is a quality player and he really showed that on Saturday.
“Hopefully that will be a real boost to his confidence because he really showed what a quality player he is after a bit of a slow start to the season.
“I think Jordan Wright has played well down the right as well, although he is not getting the goals.
“But the strikers are scoring for us, Heardy (Scott Heard) is scoring and Pax scored at the weekend as well.
"So it’s good to see goals coming from all over the pitch.”
Midfielder Kieron McCann, recovering from a knee injury, may be fit for the bench at Eastleigh while defender Josh Vincent (thigh) should also return.
Asked whether keeper Tim Roberts would be fit, Cugley said on Monday: “I’m not sure yet.
“Hopefully he will train on Tuesday.
“But the other keeper (Alexis Andre Jr) has done well.”
Cugley was also pleased to see Freeman, on dual-registration from Maidstone, round off the win against Brightlingsea and his 15-minute cameo with a late goal.
He said: “We have not really seen him play.
“He was recommended to me by Simon Austin at Maidstone. He has trained really well but we have not had a chance to see him in games.
“He took his goal really well. That will give him confidence.”
Folkestone have been drawn at home to Hendon for their FA Trophy third qualifying round tie on October 30.