Come and watch our good product, urges Folkestone boss

Thursday 09th March 2006

Folkestone Invicta’s midweek friendly against Sittingbourne was postponed, although the match against the Southern Leaguers may just have been playable but this would have undoubtedly made playing conditions worse when Ryman Premier League leaders Braintree Town visit the Buzzlines Stadium on Saturday, writes Andy Bown & Tom Marchant -

Invicta are very positive that this match will go ahead and that the Cheriton Road pitch will be playable – the club will of course keep everyone informed on any developments.

Manager Neil Cugley revealed his plans ahead of the big game. “It’s a bit awkward at this time of year but we’ll be going for a run and doing some sprinting work,” he said. “It’s the case of making the best of a bad job really! It’s a shame the friendly was called off because three players need games to stay fit.“

However, striker Chris Wright won’t be taking part in training and it has been confirmed that the non-contract player has left the club.

Speaking about the former Dover Athletic striker, Cugley said: “He worked hard and did well but he never really got the goals for us and that’s what counts at any level.

“We told him he wouldn’t be in our plans for next season as there would be more competition for him, and rather than wait we felt we’d let him go now”.

The Invicta boss explained: “It’s not a financial decision, just one that I felt as a manager I needed to make.

“I felt that he was a little out of his depth in this league, but I do wish him all the best in the future”.

Cugley, however, did state that he won’t be signing any new strikers between now and the end of the season.

“Obviously if we were nearly bottom and trying to avoid relegation it would’ve been an avenue we’d have gone down. But I think the players we have got at the club deserve to have a go if they haven’t been playing regularly in order to show me if they are the answer to our attacking problems”.

Invicta face what is likely to be a tough match against Braintree Town this Saturday, a side who they lost 3-0 to at Cressing Road back in November, with two goals from forward Eugene Ofori and one from James Hawes – Folkestone centre back Adam Flannagan was suspended on that day.

Chief Scout Richard Langley has been watching the Essex side, with Cugley revealing: “We had them watched at the Wimbledon game last week. We got back what we knew; that they’re strong defensively, don’t give a lot of chances away and are good going forward.

“Obviously there was a lot more information than that, but I won’t be going in to it!”

Cugley believes it will be a good test for his side and it will allow him to see how far the squad has come since that defeat earlier in the season.

Folkestone have had well documented problems scoring goals recently, which is something Cugley is fully aware of.

He said: “What people have got to realise is what a good league it is and if you get goals in it over a season then you will be watched by league clubs – as in DJ Campbell and the lad Beckford. So you’ve got to be a good player to get goals at this level”.

One player who won’t be getting any more goals this season for Folkestone is former Welling United and Ashford Town striker, Paul Jones.

“The bad news is he will be out for the rest of the season," revealed Cugley.  "He’s due to have an operation on his injured groin very soon and it will take six weeks to get him back. He will definitely be fit for the start of next season and he is the sort of lad to take it upon himself to get fit for the pre-season”.

Invicta, however, won’t be paying for the operation as Cugley explained, “We’re lucky that he is privately ensured with BUPA, so he won’t be waiting on the NHS for an op!”

Saturday attendances at the Buzzlines Stadium have been on the increase recently, with the last four home games on a Saturday attracting over four hundred to Cheriton Road.

A delighted Cugley said: “I think with the progression of the club on and off the pitch, the fans can see there are things going on with the football club and we can kick on next season.

“I’ve always said you need a product to sell and I think that the product is getting better and we hope to sustain this through to next season.

“I think better football brings goals and goals bring wins, but this has got to happen on the pitch.

“When we’ve had a good performance at home recently, the fans have stayed behind to clap them off and the players have got a real buzz from that.

“We’ve got good people at this club – I don’t think the fans realise how much of an influence they have; they really do help a lot! Similarly, if they get on their backs too much it gets the players down.”

Club secretary Neil Pilcher, meanwhile, has confirmed that the rearranged semi-final of the Kent League Reserve Division Cup game against Whitstable Town reserves is away on Tuesday 14th March, with the second leg being held at the Buzzlines Stadium on Tuesday 21st March. Kick off is at 1945 for both matches.