Sunday 25th April 2004

Folkestone up against it for Kent Senior Cup Final showdown against Margate

FOLKESTONE INVICTA manager Neil Cugley admitted he isn't confident that his side can beat Nationwide Conference Margate in Wednesday's John Ullman Kent Senior Cup Final at Cheriton Road, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Cheriton Road outfit are struggling to field a side due to injuries and suspensions to key players but will play eight local players in the showpiece final and go into the game on the back of a run of eight matches without tasting success.

An injury time winner from substitute Mark Simms condemned Folkestone Invicta to defeat as they lost by the odd goal in seven in their last away match of the season at Banbury United on Saturday afternoon.

The manager said: "I am not confident for the cup final as we are very short of players.  Scott Lindsey is suspended, Steve Lawrence and Drew Watkins are both injured.  It's a shame, but we go into the final with some of the younger lads, which will be a nice experience for them."

Following Folkestone's 3-0 loss at Bashley in November, the team went on a twenty-four game unbeaten run, which ironically ended with a 2-1 loss at home to Bashley at the end of March.

Cugley added: "It was a great run and at the end of the day, we achieved what we aimed for in getting promotion and to get into one of the finals.

"We will give the final a go, we will enjoy it and out of the squad, eight will be local lads and it will mean a lot to them."

However, Folkestone have reached this season's county cup final, winning their three games away from home.

They defeated Maidstone United 3-0 in December's first round tie.  The Stones had dismissed Jim Ward, who has since returned to his former club Ramsgate, after they exited the FA Vase to Bitton AFC days before the county cup tie.

Folkestone were given a perfect start when former Cray Wanderers midfielder, Drew Watkins, who was a transfer target for the Stones, hit a 25-yard free kick into the left hand corner of Kevin Hudson's net.

The Kent League side gave as good as they got during the first half, but did not take their chances, and the game was put firmly in Invicta's favour when Anthony Hogg curled the ball in from the edge of the penalty area to make the score 2-0 after 41 minutes.

John Ayling made it 3-0 when he ran down the right hand side after receiving the ball from Hogg and squeezed the ball past the goalkeeper.

Local pride was at stake in January's second round tie at Homelands as Folkestone came away with the local bragging rights with a 2-1 victory over Ashford Town.

It was from Richard Chandler's 31st minute cross from the right and Tim Hambley found himself in yards of space inside the penalty area before taking his chance well to open the scoring.

Hambley struck again with four minutes before the break, drilling the ball in at the far post after Chandler's corner from the left fell to him.

Ashford were thrown a lifeline after 77 minutes when the ball was threaded through to Simon Elliott, and he hit a well-struck shot into the roof of the net.

However, it was the semi-final that produced Invicta's best performance in the competition, when, after a good spell from the home side in the opening half and hour, they beat Ryman League Division One South outfit Bromley 5-0 at Hayes Lane.

Twenty-six year old centre half, Adam Flanaghan opened the scoring after 37 minutes when he headed in Chandler’s deep corner from the left from close to the goal line at the far post.

And Flanaghan made it 2-0 three minutes later when he got the final touch after an almighty scramble in the Bromley goalmouth when Paul Lamb’s corner was initially headed on by Dryden and then took a deflection off a defender when a Michael Everitt shot came back in.

The night got better and better for Invicta as it soon became three goals in six amazing minutes from set pieces as a Chandler free kick from 35 yards out, close to the left touchline, incredibly flew over goalkeeper Danny Harwood, who made one Folkestone appearance last March in a 4-1 home win over Hednesford Town,  and into the far corner of the net.

Watkins did make the score  4-0 after 52 minutes on his return to his old stomping ground where he played for Bromley’s groundsharers Cray Wanderers until his move to Invicta during the summer.

The best was yet to come for Invicta as Hogg completed the rout with the goal of the game after 65 minutes.  The goal came at the end of a flowing Invicta move as Lamb played the ball in and Chandler exchanged passes with Dryden before Hogg applied a sweet first time finish on the turn.

Folkestone Invicta vs Margate, John Ullman Kent Senior Cup Final, Wednesday 28 April 2004, 7.45pm @ Folkestone Invicta F.C. Cheriton Road