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Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley ahead of final push in Isthmian Premier play-off bid as they look to get back on track


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Neil Cugley is urging his Folkestone players to make one last effort in their Isthmian Premier play-off push which is reaching its final stages.

Invicta finished a torrid seven-day period with a 2-1 home loss to Lewes at the weekend.

Folkestone striker Dave Smith gets stuck in during their weekend defeat to Lewes. Picture: Randolph File
Folkestone striker Dave Smith gets stuck in during their weekend defeat to Lewes. Picture: Randolph File

It doesn’t get any easier for fifth-placed Folkestone, who are due at Horsham tonight for a league fixture having lost their Velocity Trophy semi-final tie 5-0 at the same ground seven days earlier, before a trip to second-placed Bishop’s Stortford this weekend as they look to get back on track.

The Hertfordshire outfit are in fine form, unbeaten in 14 matches.

But influential striker Ade Yusuff was back from injury for Folkestone’s match against Lewes, while midfielder Scott Heard was among the goals for Cugley, who bolstered his squad last week.

Invicta manager Cugley felt they were unlucky to lose to Lewes but said: “We have just got to get on with it. We have been lucky in avoiding hardly any suspensions all year.

“Now, as we get players back (from injury), we need to give everything until the end of the season because it soon goes!”

Midfielder Sam Gale is among three young players from Gillingham to have joined Folkestone on dual-registration. Picture: Andy Jones
Midfielder Sam Gale is among three young players from Gillingham to have joined Folkestone on dual-registration. Picture: Andy Jones

Ahead of the Isthmian League deadline last Thursday, promotion-chasing Folkestone brought in four players - with three of those coming from Gillingham’s youth ranks.

Invicta’s other capture was midfielder Simo Mbonkwi, who has joined on dual-registration from National League South Braintree.

“They have been very good. I spoke to the Braintree manager (Ryan Maxwell) and he came on for them on Saturday (during a 2-0 victory at Slough) which is why it’s a dual-reg agreement,” Cugley explained.

“It became a numbers game in the end.

“Then I spoke to Jason Lillis at Gillingham (the club’s head of coaching). He sorted the other three out.

“We are getting players back but it’s nice to have that support on the bench.”

Gillingham’s teenage trio of striker Joseph Gbode, midfielder Sam Gale and defender Alex Giles already have got senior football experience under their belts this term - Gbode in Isthmian Premier with Margate, Gale with Lordswood and Giles at Isthmian South East side Faversham.

Cugley added: “They train every day so their fitness will be good.

“That’s good because, sometimes, there are some slight fitness issues at this time of year.”

Cugley also commented on the departure of midfielder Andy Drury last week, with the former Football League player taking up the job as Whitstable’s manager.

He stated: “I thought he would be here until the end of the year but he couldn’t turn it (the job opportunity) down.

“He is a very genuine person, so he goes with our best wishes.”

Cugley, who has also welcomed teenage striker Tyler Sterling back from his loan at Hythe, is unsure how long Dartford loanee Luke Wanadio (foot) will be sidelined for at this stage and hopes to find out later in the week.

His troops face another stern examination of their promotion credentials on Saturday when they play Bishop’s Stortford, who have not lost since January 8.

“They are on a heck of a run, to be fair,” Cugley admitted.

“I expect that will be another good game but they are all big at this time of the season.”

Ian Draycott, the club's all-time leading scorer, is due back from a broken wrist at Bishop’s Stortford.

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