Hendon 4-0 Folkestone Invicta - We didn’t have that belief or that want really to show let’s get in this National League South. It maybe seemed too much for them, admits Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley

Thursday 03rd May 2018
Hendon 4 – 0 Folkestone Invicta
Location Silver Jubilee Park, Townsend Lane, Kingsbury, London NW9 7NE
Kickoff 03/05/2018 19:30

HENDON  4-0 FOLKESTONE INVICTA
Bostik Premier Division Play-Off Semi-Final
Thursday 3 May 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Silver Jubilee Park

FOLKESTONE INVICTA manager Neil Cugley says his players’ didn’t have the desire or the want to win promotion into the Vanarama National League South.

Gary McCann’s quality attack-minded unforgiving side dished out a severe humiliation in front of a record crowd of 722 at Silver Jubilee Park in Kingsbury to shatter Folkestone Invicta’s promotion dream.

Billericay Town, as expected on their £25,000 per week budget, claimed the Bostik Premier Division title with 99 points from their 46 games.

Dulwich Hamlet finished in second-place on 95 points and Hendon and Folkestone Invicta followed on 85 points, while Leiston grabbed the final play-off berth on 79 points.

Hendon produced a scintillating attacking display on their artificial pitch during a one-sided dominant first half.

They took the lead inside the opening six minutes through Josh Walker’s sublime chip and it was all over just six minutes later when another winger, Ashley Nathaniel-George hooked in a second.

Hendon then scored twice in a clinical 84 second spell through Zak Joseph’s 18th goal of the season and Niko Muir’s 38th goal of the season and they sealed a play-off final trip to Imperial Fields in Morden on Bank Holiday Monday, 7 May (15:00) to play Dulwich Hamlet, who beat Leiston courtesy of an Ashley Carew’s trademark free-kick.

“They kept the ball moving, they were sharp,” said Cugley during the post-match press conference.

“We didn’t have a very good trip up, I don’t think that helped. We were a bit late getting here and stuck in traffic and all that.  I’m not making excuses, it doesn’t help.

“If you’re going to be a semi-professional club (did he mean National League South club?) that hopefully Folkestone will be over the next couple of years, we’ve got to be a little bit more professional in that way. 

“Hendon were sharp and busy and we knew they’d be. Their forwards are class players and to be fair we couldn’t get near them, the first 20 minutes!”

Hendon set the tone of their devastation as early as 35 seconds when Muir played in Joseph, who drilled his shot past the foot of the far post when he only had Tim Roberts to beat.

Folkestone Invicta’s 30-goal striker Ade Yusuff suffered a frustrating night.  He received a low pass into his feet from Callum Davies, cut inside past his man and onto his right-foot but his weak shot rolled into the hands of untroubled Hendon keeper Tom Lovelock.

Hendon took the lead with only five minutes and 27 seconds on the clock – and it went downhill from there for Cugley’s men.

Muir swept pass played in Walker, who swept his right-footed lob over Roberts’ outstretched fingertips and sailed into the top left-hand corner from 20-yards.

Cugley said: “To be fair, they could’ve scored before that and a couple afterwards.  You’re talking about a lot of chances.  When it’s 2-0 we’re back in the game for a little while and third, fourth. Bang! It’s time to go home, time!

“Good goal, good movement.  I don’t think we were very lively. I didn’t think the trip helped, squashed up on a coach.  No disrespect, we’ve only got one coach and we’re all on it (with supporters).  You wouldn’t get that at Maidstone or Dartford or Dover.”

Too many Folkestone players had bad games all on the same night and they should have been two-nil down in the eighth minute when Walker cut the ball back to Muir, who leaned back and drove his right-footed shot over the bar from eight-yards when it seemed easier to score.

Folkestone weathered the storm for a short period and the only thing that they won tonight was the corner count, winning it six-to-two.

Ronnie Dolan swung in their first of the night, from the left, which Lovelock punched a long way out and Kieron McCann cut the ball onto his left-foot to float in a cross from the right into the box for Davies to come up from the back to glance his header across goal and past the far post from six-yards.

Sam Hasler delivered a free-kick from inside the centre circle into the Hendon box but Josh Vincent came up from the back to power his header past the near post.

Hendon doubled their lead with only 15 minutes and 6 seconds on the clock.

Lovelock’s clearance went out to the right and Walker easily shrugged past Davies before whipping in a cross from the right towards the far post and Nathaniel-George hooked his shot across goal and crept into the bottom far corner from six-yards.

Cugley said: “Callum (Davies) will be disappointed.  I think Callum’s been tremendous for us this year but I think he’ll look back at that game and will be disappointed how he’s come out of it!

“I think they had good forward play, sometimes you’ve got to praise some of their forwards. Some of my players who played really well all year didn’t perform defensively as they’d like to.  They’ll be disappointed but you have to give them credit because they kept the ball moving. It wasn’t just one individual going through us, it was pass and move, pass and move and we didn’t really cope with that very well.”

Hendon were on fire during the first 20 minutes with Walker terrorising Davies down the right wing before Walker was withdrawn through injury just before the hour-mark.

It took Hendon 26 minutes to win their first corner and left-back Oliver Sprague swung in the ball from the left and Roberts was relieved to watch the ball clip the top of the far post.

Hendon central defender Rian Bray played a long ball straight down the middle and Nathaniel-George’s right-footed drive from 25-yards was tipped away by Roberts, diving low to his right.

Folkestone Invicta built down the right with McCann and struggling striker Joe Taylor and Dolan’s first time cross-come-shot flashed across the keeper and bounced past the far post but this was a miserable night in north-west London for the travelling fans.

Walker and Muir linked up down the right and a mistake from Jerald Aboagye let in Nathaniel-George, but he overhit the pass to Muir and Roberts picked up the pieces.

Folkestone Invicta were shot to pieces during a woeful first half. It was surprising that these were the same players whom took four points off Billericay Town during this calendar year.

Dolan drilled a wasteful left-footed free-kick from 35-yards harmlessly wide of the far post before Hendon missed a glorious chance shortly afterwards.

Micheal Everitt gave the ball away in Hendon’s half and the home side broke at pace and Nathaniel-George released Walker through on goal but he placed his right-footed shot across the keeper and trickling just past the foot of the far post with only a flat-footed Roberts to beat.

Hendon killed the game off with two goals in the space of 84 seconds, the third goal being timed at 42 minutes and 10 seconds on the clock.

Hendon deserved their three-goal lead and striker Joseph cracked a beauty, a 30-yard drive past the well-beaten keeper into the bottom far corner.

“That’s it really,” admitted Cugley, with the game now dead and buried.

“We were going to do this at half-time and do that.  Two-nil if you can get a goal it can change but it didn’t and good luck to Hendon.”

Folkestone Invicta were short of leaders and desire, especially when Hendon swiftly made it four when Muir was given time and space to pick his spot into the bottom far corner from just a couple of yards inside the corner of the box.

“They were two very good goals. Sometimes you can hold your hand up and say you’ve lost to a better side by quite a considerable (manner).

“Niko Muir’s a class player and I’m amazed he’s playing at this standard.  You’re dead right, they killed the game and you go in at half-time just talking about pride and commitment and not to get rolled over by more really.”

McCann’s men were 4-0 up at the break when it truth it should have been at least double that and there was no way back for Cugley’s men.

“It was a tough for me and Edgy (Roland Edge).  We were disappointed with how we performed and they were very disappointed.  There’s not much you can do in the second half, nothing much happened really. We hit the post and we had this chance and they had that chance but just died a death really.”

The introduction of 15-goal striker Johan Ter Horst (for Everitt) was a good move at the break as the introduction of the former Hull City and Maidstone United man sparked some life into the away side.

Dolan sat in front of the back four with Hasler and McCann deployed in a defensive role in front of him.

Joseph tried to score from 40-yards in the 50th minute but the ball bounced into Roberts’ hands for a comfortable gather.

Roberts made comfortable saves in the second half, Hendon’s next chance coming when Nathaniel-George sprayed the ball out to substitute winger Daniel Uchechi, who centred for Joseph, who nipped in front of Vincent, but all he could do was poke the ball straight at Roberts from six-yards.

A mistake from Vincent let in Joseph and his left-footed chip from outside the box appeared to have sailed over Roberts’ head but the Folkestone keeper used his tall frame to jump to pluck the ball out of the air.

“You can’t blame Tim for the goals and the last couple of games Tim’s been outstanding,” added Cugley.

Ter Horst held his head in his hands in despair when he struck the post in the 64th minute.

Hasler whipped in a quality free-kick with his left-foot towards the near post and Ter Horst’s glancing header across goal clipped the top of the far post.

“It would’ve been nice had we got one.  “I think the players are just down and disappointed,” added Cugley.

“They can slow it down a bit. We had a couple of chances here or there.  I think the game was finished after the first few early on. We’ve got to be more professional in the way we do things as well.”

Folkestone captain Davies had a couple of chances, one with his head that he steered over after meeting Dolan’s corner from the left following a knock down at the far post and latching onto Yusuff’s pass into feet before hitting a low drive from 22-yards, which was saved by Lovelock, to his left.

With 20 minutes remaining, the highly-rated Muir hit a cross-field-pass over to Nathaniel-George, who cut in and drove a low shot which Roberts tipped away diving low to his right at his near post.

Nathaniel-George played the ball into substitute midfielder Sam Murphy and Muir’s shot on the turn from 20-yards, was held by Roberts low to his right.

Folkestone Invicta rallied late on though and McCann swung in a telling corner from the left which was tipped over the bar by Lovelock as the ball dipped down over his left-shoulder in the final 12 minutes.

Vincent played in Taylor, who beat his man but drove his low shot into the base of the side netting from a tight angle.

Brilliant Hendon created three more chances before the game’s conclusion.

Murphy swung in their second and last corner, from the left but substitute Dave Diedhio planted his near post header off-target; Uchechi’s right-footed drive from 25-yards was easily gathered by Roberts , who dived low to his right to hold Muir’s right-footed drive from similar distance at the end.

Cugley said in the build-up to that staging Vanarama National League South football at Cheriton Road next season is “just something you’ve never really thought about or sort of put together as a club.”

Folkestone’s players took that to heart and put in a poor performance and failed to turn up and prove that they are a good side and second leading scorers in the Bostik South with 104 goals.

“We lost to Dulwich the other day.  I just said in there, if we are sticking together, I think it showed a little bit, I think, in our play.  I don’t think we have the desire to really go up and play in the next league.  I think we’ve got a lot of players who feel more comfy (in the Bostik Premier), no travelling, maybe that was on their mind a bit, I don’t know.

“We didn’t have that belief or that want really to show let’s get in this National League South.  It maybe seemed too much for them.

“I feel we were the nearly team this year. We’ve done tremendously well and the players have been brilliant. We’ve got to the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round (losing 1-0 at Slough Town), we didn’t win that, got to the Kent Senior Cup Final (losing on penalties after drawing Maidstone United 0-0), couldn’t win that, should’ve finished third, instead of fourth, then come here and lost. 

“I call them the nearly team really, that’s no disrespect.  A lot of them haven’t played at this standard, the first time they’ve played at this standard, they should be proud of what they’ve done.

“I just feel a little bit let down, not let down, just really disappointed really.”

“That’s the problem with the play-offs, their great things if you win, if you lose, that’s it! I don’t see the players’ now and some might leave at the end of the season so I may not see them again so it does seem a strange thing.

“We had the presentation dinner, you’re all having a laugh together on Saturday than today they’re here and now they’ve gone and who knows who will sign for next year and who won’t.

“We’ve had a hard month, we’ve had a difficult month. We always knew it would be a difficult month and that’s how it showed in the end.

“We drew with Staines, we drew with Margate, lost to Dorking, lost to Dulwich, lost in the Kent Senior Cup Final and lost today, so it’s been a bit of a, we drew with Billericay, obviously that was a good result.  Generally it hasn’t been a good month.

“When the pressure does tell, I don’t think we’re very good at that.

“I’ve said in there, we’ll stick together, do we keep the side together? Do they want to be a part of it and we just need to know now.  It’s up to the players isn’t it? Some might leave, I don’t know.  I think more would’ve left if we’d have gone up.  I think that’s the sort of feeling. Maybe they didn’t want the travelling in National League South and I don’t know if that’s been playing on their mind or what because some won’t sign, until they know where we are.

“I’d say it’s been a good season.  I think it would’ve been great if we could’ve been in the final of this and won the Kent Senior Cup and got in the first round of The Cup.  Instead I think we’re the nearly team and that’s a bit of a shame.”

Hendon: Tom Lovelock, James Hammond, Oliver Sprague, Jake Eggleton, Rian Bray, Arthur Lee, Josh Walker (Daniel Uchechi 56), Casey MacLaren (Dave Diedhiou 84), Niko Muir, Zak Joseph (Sam Murphy 74), Ashley Nathaniel-George.
Subs: Luke Tingey, Michael Corcoran

Goals: Josh Walker 6, Ashley Nathaniel-George 16, Zak Joseph 43, Niko Muir 44

Booked: James Hammond 56, Jake Eggleton 63

Folkestone Invicta: Tim Roberts, Jerald Aboagye, Callum Davies, Micheal Everitt (Johan Ter Horst 46), Josh Vincent, Matthew Newman, Ronnie Dolan, Sam Hasler (Ian Draycott 72), Joe Taylor, Ade Yusuff, Kieron McCann.
Subs: Jordan Wright, Nathaniel Blanks, Nick Shaw

Booked: Sam Hasler 48, Ade Yusuff 60, Jerald Aboagye 65, Ronnie Dolan 89, Josh Vincent 90

Attendance: 722
Referee: Mr Gerry Heron (West Wickham)
Assistants: Mr Paul Agboola (Elephant & Castle, London SE17) & Mr Rhys Battaye (Grays, Essex)
Fourth Official: Mr Tom Bishop (Haringey, London N4)

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