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Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley delighted his players decided to stick together for another season

Manager Neil Cugley says Folkestone’s surge to the top of the Isthmian Premier is a reward for the players’ loyalty.

The Invicta boss admitted he did not know whether his squad would stay together last summer but urged them to ‘give it one more year’.

They did and now sit top of the table with just two defeats from their opening 15 fixtures.

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

Boss Cugley explained: “We’re not going to say where we’ll finish but it has been a fantastic start and it’s all testament to the players.

“If I’m honest I was shocked that they did all agree to stay because I’m sure they will have interested other clubs.

“When I was talking to them pre-season I said ‘Let’s all stick together and give it one more go’ and it’s paid off.

“When you’re building a squad you look at a player’s attitude as well as his ability and we’re lucky that our lads are excellent in that respect.

“We lost (striker) Ade Yusuff (who signed for Dulwich Hamlet) and Nick Shaw, the No.2 goalkeeper, but we brought in Jerson Dos Santos and Henry Newcombe which was good.

“They have both settled in well and we have good competition across the squad. I’m pleased to see the players getting their just rewards.”

Invicta drew 1-1 at Carshalton on Saturday and Cugley felt a point was a fair return.

He added: “They’re a good counter-attacking side and they did the double over us last season so it was nice to get a result against them, especially having been 1-0 down.

“Henry made a couple of good saves when he had to but I also thought we created some good chances.”

Invicta were due to be in FA Trophy action this weekend but their second qualifying round game against Maldon & Tiptree has been switched to Wednesday, November 13, because their opponents have an FA Cup tie with Leyton Orient on the Sunday.

By the time that game comes around midfielder Micheal Everitt should be fit having missed the Carshalton game with the foot injury he sustained against Lewes.

Meanwhile Cugley has allowed recent signing Steve Smith to go on a month’s loan with East Grinstead.

The former Whitstable and Ramsgate striker marked his debut for the Wasps with a goal in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Herne Bay.

Cugley explained: “It was a joint decision really between Steve and myself.

“He’s not played enough games so he needed to get out and get a few under his belt.

“He’s done all right when he’s played for us but he knows he’s not as sharp as he’d like to be.”

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