To be so far up and get into the play-offs and talk about National League South is all credit to everybody at the club, says Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley
FOLKESTONE INVICTA manager Neil Cugley says the club have not thought about the prospect of winning promotion into the Vanarama National League South for the first time.
Cugley has guided the club to a personal best finish of fourth-place in the Bostik Premier Division and they travel to Hendon on Thursday night in the play-off semi-finals for a place in next Monday’s winner-takes-all final against Dulwich Hamlet or Leiston.
Billericay Town, as expected, won the league title having finished on 99 points from their 46 games and Folkestone Invicta took four points off the Essex side this season.
Dulwich Hamlet were runners-up on 95 points, while Hendon finished in third-place on 85 points, Folkestone Invicta in fifth on 85 points (losing home advantage by a goal-difference of four), while Leiston grabbed fifth-place on 79 points.
Leatherhead (79), Margate (77) and Staines Town (75) all missed out on extending their campaign.
Reflecting on their League campaign, Cugley said: “Very proud really, especially last season we went to the last game to stay up! The players have done us and the club well and I’m pleased all round. Everything’s gone very, very well.
“It’s down to the hard work the players have put into it really, a bit of luck here and there and getting the right players in at the right time and a lot of enthusiasm by them really.”
Games between Hendon and Folkestone Invicta have produced plenty of goals and Cugley is relishing their trip to Silver Jubilee Park tomorrow night.
“I think it was 3-2 to us at home, we were 2-1 down and won 3-2,” reflected Cugley, whose side threw away a 3-0 lead to come away from Hendon with a point on 27 January.
“I think they’ve got some exceptional forwards at the club so they play to their strengths as they say. I think it will be a very good attacking game and they’ve got a big 3G pitch and make for an open game.”
Cugley revealed he has now got over their cruel 2-2 draw at Billericay Town on Saturday, who claimed a point through Jamie O’Hara’s stunning last strike.
“I’ve got to say I was a bit down after the game as we done ever so well and looking to do the double over Billericay and Jamie O’Hara has scored a wonder goal in the last few seconds of the game and I was a bit deflated,” he said.
“I’m a Folkestone person and it would have been good to have a big crowd at Folkestone (against Hendon) but in some ways it does take the pressure off as well but it works both ways.
“I’ve bounced back and I can’t wait for the game.”
Ade Yusuff has banged in 30 goals for Folkestone Invicta this season and Joe Taylor has notched 20, Ian Draycott 16 and Johan Ter Horst 15 so Cugley does have some firepower to count on in north west London tomorrow night.
Cugley said: “At this level you need quality forwards. We’re in a league that has got some good forwards in it and we’re lucky to have them and Hendon have got some good forward as well. It’s good to have them. Anyone can pop up with a goal.”
If Cugley can guide the club to their highest level of football – the Vanarama National League South – it will be his biggest ever achievement in football.
“It’s just something you’ve never really thought about or sort of put together as a club,” revealed Cugley.
“Let’s get into the Bostik Premier and consolidate in that. It’s a good league anyway. To be so far up and get into the play-offs and talk about National League South is all credit to everybody at the club.
“We’re not the richest club as you know and we’ve had to work hard to get success like this, so to come above some very, very good club’s and it gives hope to some of the other clubs’ and maybe they can think about that next year and they can get up there so that’s good as well.”
Visit Folkestone Invicta’s website: www.folkestoneinvictafc.co.uk
Hendon v Folkestone Invicta
Bostik Premier Division Play-Off Semi-Final
Thursday 3 May 2018
Kick Off 7:30pm
At Silver Jubilee Park, Townsend Lane, Kingsbury, London NW8 7NE