Retired midfielder Darren Smith answers Neil Cugley's FA Cup emergency call

Friday 30th September 2016

FOLKESTONE INVICTA manager Neil Cugley has called upon retired midfielder Darren Smith for their FA Cup Third Qualifying Round trip to North Leigh tomorrow.

Cugley was looking primarily to fill the midfield void caused by Phil Starkey’s hamstring problem and first made the call to all-time record appearance making Micheal Everitt, who retired at the end of last season after playing a full part in the club’s record-breaking championship winning season.

“Mev was my first thought but his knee is really playing him up these days, so I’ve come up with someone that I hope is an excellent alternative,” Cugley told

“Darren Smith’s not been playing for anyone on a regular basis but he’s such a fit lad that I had no hesitation in calling him just now.

“He still loves the game dearly, as he always did, and I’m delighted to say that he’ll be in our squad on Saturday.

“I looked at loads of other possibilities, but most decent players have played for other clubs and in the Cup already and are cup-tied – just as our two recent signings Joe Taylor (Ramsgate) and Anthony O’Connor (North Greenford United) are.

“Other than that, it would have had to be an untried youngster from a League club.  But with Smudger’s agreeing to help us – he knows the way that we play and the most of our other players – even Ian Draycott who was in the Leatherhead team that Darren captained when they beat us in the play-off final just a couple of years ago.”

Folkestone Invicta arrive in Oxfordshire for their FA Cup Third Qualifying Round tie sitting in the bottom seven in the Ryman Premier League table, having collected three wins, two draws and five defeats.

Reflecting on their 1-0 defeat at Billericay Town last time out, Cugley told the club’s website: “I was really encouraged by the performance at Billericay on Tuesday.  We showed just the kind of character and spirit that we needed.

“We were down to 10 senior players when Sam Beale dropped out with a gastric problem and had to bring Euan Sahadow in at left-back and shuffle things around.

“For a 16-year-old playing out of position he did very well indeed and certainly let no-one down.

“It was good to see Jordan Wright back and playing so well again too.

“To lose 1-0 to a side who had won their last six games was no mean achievement and the players were all in good spirts at the end – I was proud of them.”

Beale is now reportedly now well again and expected to come back in to replace Nat Blanks (broken toe), while leading scorer Draycott is also set to return at Eynsham Park.

But the club confirm that Blanks, Starkey, Ronnie Dolan, O’Connor, Taylor and Jon Pilbeam won’t feature.

North Leigh go into the game sitting in seventh-place in the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One South & West table, which is one level underneath Folkestone Invicta.

Visit Folkestone Invicta’s website:

North Leigh  v  Folkestone Invicta
The Emirates FA Cup Third Qualifying Round
Saturday 1st October 2016
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Eynsham Park, North Leigh, Witney, Oxfordshire OX29 6SL