I'd love to have another go at the Ryman Premier, says Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley
FOLKESTONE INVICTA boss Neil Cugley says his side must play better if they are to beat Merstham to win promotion tomorrow afternoon.
Invicta finished runners-up in the Ryman League Division One South on 98 points from 46 games and will therefore pick up medals and they will also have home advantage over the Surrey side.
ON THE BRINK: Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley wants his side to enjoy themselves during tomorow's Ryman League Division One South Play-Off Final against Merstham, who are bidding to clinch promotion in to the Ryman Premier League for the first time in their history.
Photo: Folkestone Invicta FC
The Kent coast outfit needed extra-time to beat Whyteleafe 2-1 on Tuesday night as Cugley sent the club into the Play-Off Final for the third time in five seasons.
Ian Draycott headed Folkestone Invicta into the lead with his 43rd goal in 56 appearances and the former Leatherhead striker has now scored six in the last four matches and fourteen in the last thirteen.
But Whyteleafe levelled through striker Roscoe DSane, before an own goal from Jason Thompson, who also missed an extra-time penalty, gave the Kent side a chance to win promotion alongside champions Burgess Hill Town.
“To be fair, I thought they were better than us first half and we scored against the run of play,” admitted Cugley.
“Second half I felt we were a lot better and they scored against the run of play, so that’s how it goes sometimes.
“Extra-time, I thought we were the better side and we looked a bit fitter and pleased we won obviously.”
Reflecting on Thompson’s penalty miss, Cugley admitted: “It was sort of against the run of play, not long after we scored and to be fair to the lad he normally puts them away. He didn’t on this time but that’s how it goes.”
All play-off tussles are nervy affairs and Cugley has told his players to not let their nerves get the better of them when they come up against Hayden Bird’s side tomorrow.
Mertham held their nerve from the penalty spot to win 5-4 at Faversham Town, after an uninspiring play-off finished a goal-less stalemate after 120 minutes at Salters Lane on Tuesday night.
Former Folkestone Invicta striker Stuart King missed the first penalty, while all of the other players converted theirs with Peter Adeniyi sending Merstham into tomorrow’s winner-takes-all showdown.
“I thought we didn’t relax and it’s one thing I’ll be talking to the players about,” revealed the Folkestone boss.
“They must have a bit about themselves and try to enjoy the situation, not worry about it. It was too tense for me.
“From what I’ve heard of the (Merstham) game – and you were there – that didn’t hit the high standards either.
“Merstham are a good side and I don’t think they liked the pitch too much at Faversham from what I gather.
“They’re a good side with good players and they play good football and we’ve got to be wary of them.
“We’ll go out and do our best and hopefully win and if we don’t win life goes on, doesn’t it?”
Folkestone Invicta suffered penalty heartbreak in last year’s final as Leatherhead keeper Deren Ibrahim pulled off two saves to stun the Cheriton Road crowd.
“The years’ before we’ve been in play-offs and not won them so yes you should learn maybe but what will be will be,” said Cugley.
“Go out, get on the ball and enjoy the situation. There will be a big crowd there and players have to try to play well.
“If they don’t relax and play well, they don’t play well at this standard.
“I think if we don’t improve then it’s going to be very difficult for us to win the game because we didn’t play well and we’ve got to improve on that really to get through.”
Merstham winger Taurean Roberts was a threat in the semi-final at Faversham o but they have other players who could hurt Folkestone Invicta tomorrow.
“They’ve got some good players and experience now and a big side and it will be a difficult game,” warned Cugley.
“I suppose our best result this year was away to Merstham in the league and we played really well that day and we have to get back to that standard to make sure we win the game.”
Folkestone Invicta now seem better equipped to win promotion into the Ryman Premier League than they were this time last year.
The club have paid off its long-standing debt but Cugley knows his side must prevent Merstham getting into that division for the first time in their history first.
“You know the situation at the club, nothing much will change. The wage bill will be the same and off you go and get on with it,” said Cugley.
“Yes, we’d like it (promotion). The players’ want it now and I’d love to have another go at the Ryman Premier, but if we lose Saturday, I’ll go upstairs and have a beer and life goes on.
“The only difference is we haven’t got loads of money, or got any backers who will give us loads of money. We’ll have to do it with what we’ve got.
“The team will not change much generally, whatever league we’re in next year. The club won’t break the bank to get in financial trouble so we’ll go with whatever we’ve got.
Cugley wants his fans to make plenty of noise as a crowd of at least 1,000 is expected to watch the match.
“Financially it’s good as well because you get all the (income from the) bars and everything else and it will help the finances of the club so it’s always good. Play-off’s do make money for the clubs.”
Visit Folkestone Invicta’s website: www.folkestoneinvictafc.co.uk
Folkestone Invicta v Merstham
Ryman League Division One South Play-Off Final
Saturday 2nd May 2015
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Cheriton Road, Folkestone, Kent CT19 5JU