No-one's place in the side is safe, says Invicta boss Cugley

Tuesday 24th January 2006

CUGLEY: "It just wasn’t our day!"

That was how the Folkestone Invicta manager felt after watching his side narrowly lose 2-1 to Hampton and Richmond Borough at the Buzzlines Stadium on Saturday afternoon, reports

Invicta were very much on top for the first half, creating numerous chances and they would’ve deemed themselves unfortunate to have only gone in at half time with the score at 1-1.

Folkestone began the second half where they left off, but it was Hampton – who have occupied the top places of the Ryman Premier for most of the season - who scored a second and what proved a decisive goal against the run of play to take the three points.

As he had said was likely to be the case in midweek, Neil Cugley fielded a changed side to the one that faced Billericay Town last Saturday.

John Guest couldn’t play at the last minute due to personal reasons, which meant Kevin Watson filling in at centre back and James Fraser making his debut at right wing back.

Cugley explained: "I decided to give Fraser a start to support the midfield more and he pushed them (Hampton) back down the right.

"I felt he did excellently because he nearly scored within five minutes and his overall contribution was a highlight for me".

Micheal Everitt regained his place in the Invicta midfield alongside brother James and Mark Saunders, whilst Chris Wright partnered Paul Jones up front with Walid Matata dropping to the bench.

Invicta therefore had a strong set of substitutes, including Stuart Myall and Martin Chandler, on a day even when centre back Stuart Playford was unavailable.

Cugley made the comparison to previous weeks when the squad numbers had been relatively thin, "Earlier in the season and through the Chester game, we only had 12 or 13 lads and it was very difficult to give any of them a rest and everyone had to muck in".

He added: "We want this club to move on and not just sit back in this league, and finally we’ve got some competition for places, which is going to push the players on to improve their performances".

With more players in the squad, Cugley now has selection issues which haven’t existed recently, expressing: "I feel like more of a manager now!".

Midfield players Myall and Chandler were not in the starting eleven as both missed training on Wednesday night and Cugley felt this left him with little choice – "You know, if they don’t come to training, then how can they expect to play on Saturday?

"With the extra players I have at my disposal, I can be start to be stricter with the team and not let them relax when they think their place in the side is safe".

Wednesday’s training session proved invaluable against Hampton, with Cugley remarking about the goal Saunders scored on his debut to give Folkestone a 1-0 lead. "It was something he set up in training and it came off on the pitch which is pleasing and it was a superb header".

Cugley was pleased with his overall performance on what was the midfielder’s home debut, stating: "He was excellent in the centre of midfield and he’s an unbelievable asset on and off the pitch for the club, which will hopefully push us on even more.

"His talking on the pitch and marshalling of some of the younger lads is excellent and we just need him to continue to get match fit, which will come with time".

The Folkestone boss felt Saturday was the best the team had played in the final third of the pitch, saying: "We have played well recently to be honest, just today we passed and attacked well in the final third and it showed by the amount of chances we had and the pressure we put them under.

"Every player played well, played as a unit and if we put our chances away we would’ve got something from the game. It was just one of those days".

Cugley was disappointed though, but claimed: "We made one of the top teams look ordinary today. Kess had nothing to do and their second goal was class and on the first, Fraser got caught at the back post with a taller striker, but these things happen and it’s just how football is".

The long-serving manager was keen to point out the role of the fans at the game yesterday despite the defeat: "The fans were absolutely excellent today, and they really gave the players a lift. With them still there chanting, even though we were losing, is very heartening," he said.

"I just hope they saw today that we did play well, we did give it our all and that they’re there for the rest of the season to get behind us, as it really does help the players.

"We’re trying to bring this club on and I hope they can see that today, this started to show on the pitch and that we can give them something to cheer about in the future".

Paul Jones, who was partnered for the first time by Chris Wright yesterday, spoke about the result and the team performance after the game. "I felt we played really well today, the passing felt right and we did a lot better in their half which showed by the amounts of chances we created," said the former Ashford Town striker.

"You only have to look at how much they celebrated at the end of the game to see that we made it tough for them and that maybe they knew they were lucky to get something from the game."

On his partnership with Wright, Jones added: "I thought we worked well out there. We’re both similar players capable of holding the ball up, and this brought the likes of Fraser and Mev into the game more".

With increased competition in the team, Jones believes it is pushing him on as a player, and that with Wright and others ready to step in, the manager has more to think about with the team. He said: "With the competition in the squad, everyone has to keep their performances up and if I don’t play well, I might not start the next game".

Meanwhile, Scott Lindsey has joined Kentish Observer League side Maidstone United. A statement on Invicta's website said: "The Stones called over the weekend asking if it was okay to speak to Scott and with him being a good servant of the club we didn't want to stand in his way for another week whilst we went through the "seven day approach" exercise.

"Maidstone were also delighted as that will allow Scott to play in their Premier Division Cup match at VCD Athletic tonight.

"We have also cancelled Scott's registration with the Ryman League and I am sure we all wish him well for his new club."

Folkestone's next home game is against Maldon Town on Monday, 30th January, 7:45pm.

Leyton v Folkestone Invicta
Ryman Premier League
Saturday 28th January 2006
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Lea Bridge Road