Folkestone on course to complete reserve team double
Folkestone Invicta reserves aim to continue their successful season tonight in the Kentish Observer League Cup at their counterparts from Whitstable Town, writes Andy Bown & Tom Marchant – www.folkestoneinvicta.co.uk
Although promotion remains a priority, Invicta are aiming for a double that would cap off a fine season for a promising bunch of youngsters.
Manager Micky Dix was looking forward to the semi-final first-leg tie tonight. “I think we need it to be honest, and as a club it would be lovely to make a cup final if we could,” he said.
”With the semi being two legs I think that’s good for us as being away tonight means at the end of the night we are only half way there and we know what we’ve got to do in the next leg”.
Dix added: “I’m quietly confident we’ll get through and we seem to be maturing even though the side is so young – we just lack an experienced player or two.
"All season our policy is to play the youngsters and the team has basically been an under 19s side which is good for the future but at the times we do sort of lack that older edge. But I’ve got no complaints and we’ve got on and done it.”
To many people this has been the most encouraging part of the reserves season; that they’ve been so successful against sides containing older and more experienced players. If some of these players can follow the likes of Joe Neilson and Kieran Mann into the first team, it certainly all bodes well for Cheriton Road club.
However, Folkestone’s reserves haven’t played a game for three weeks since they overcame Thamesmead Town in the last round of the cup, and as with any team having not played competitively for a while, Dix believes this could be a problem.
“I am a bit concerned that we haven’t played many games just recently, although we are itching to get going,” he said.
”Obviously Neil Cugley used a few last night in his goalless friendly against Ashford Town, but I never know what I’ve got usually until about an hour before kick off – the change in personnel is pretty ferocious really.
“I don’t think we’ve got any injuries, but you never know to be honest! We’re going to be solid and it’ll pretty much be the same sort of side that played against Thamesmead”.
Dix expressed the importance of playing in cup games for the development of the players. He said: “It’s a case of learning how to play in these big pressure games and even with all of the games for these young lads, it’s good as win or lose, penalty shoot outs and all these other sorts of things we’ve been through, it’s good to experience it.
"Later on someone will go up a level and they’ll know how to experience it; the nervy times – it’s another good little thing to get under our wings I’d call it”.
The match against Thamesmead reserves was again an encouraging win against a side who currently play a league above Invicta’s reserves and who have already beaten second placed Whitstable Town twice this season.
It continues to underline what a talented group of youngster’s the club have and that surely has real ability to play in a league above. Dix explained some reasons for his side’s successful season, which for many of the side has included an appearance in the second round of the F.A Youth Cup.
“Most of the reserve team or three quarters of it is last season’s under 18s, so in a sense we’ve created a very settled side,” he said. “We’ve got a very sociable sort of squad where we train pretty well and most of their attitudes are alright. In all fairness we’ve got good a good team spirit and that’s what seen us through really.
”We haven’t had a very big squad all year really and the nucleus of the side, the backbone, has been the same all season and then we’ve had a few young ones come in and out.”
Although the reserves play at home when the first team are away, Dix feels that the team could be boosted if it had a little more exposure and more people watching, which like the first team, would bring more finances in and further benefits.
He explained: “We deserve more support really and a bit more publicity for what we’ve achieved – it’s like at home games, we don’t break even at times but I do appreciate though that there is not as much travelling for first team games so more people do go more to the away ones.
"With a few homes games that we’ve got in coming weeks and I think we play Hythe midweek in a couple of weeks, I’d love to think we could get a few people in to see us”.
Dix feels that many of his youngsters given the right attitude, have a chance to make it in the first team and even though the gap between reserve and first team football is big, many have a promising future at the club.
“A couple of them played last night but when you get the opportunity to have a half in a friendly for the first team then you’ve got to take it! That’s because it’s what everyone’s ultimate aim is; to get in the first team – and of course there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said.
The reserves only have four remaining league games left in the season but potentially another three in the cup and in that respect it is still a busy end of season for the team and one which they need to cap off to make it a truly fine season.
However, Dix knows that the season is far from over and is not letting his lads rest on their laurels. ”With the under 18s and the reserves we’ve got a situation this week where around five of the under 18s will play in the reserves. So they’ve basically got the semi final tonight, the second leg next week and they’ve also got a Kent County semi final (the under 18s), the John Ullman Cup (under 18s) and we’ve still got ten under 18s league games.”
The return leg at the Buzzlines Stadium in Cheriton Road is next Tuesday, 21st March (7:45pm).