Sunday 18th September 2005

Cugley shocked about Ref's U-turn


Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley is in a state of shock after referee Mr.S.Comerford admitted making a costly mistake during the end of the first half of their 3-1 defeat at Hampton & Richmond Borough yesterday, writes Stephen McCartney.

Two goals in the closing five minutes condemned ten-man Folkestone Invicta to a defeat away to the Ryman Premier League leaders, who have a 100% record, despite the Kent side opening the scoring through Stuart Myall five minutes after the controversial dismissal of John Guest.

Guest was sent off in the 45th minute for what stand-in referee Mr Comerford deemed as deliberate handball when the centre half went to charge the ball down from Lawrence Yaku with his arms raised.

It was one of the game's turning points and a disappointing end of a first half, in which the struggling Kent side had acquitted themselves very well.

The unfortunate Guest had been involved in even bigger controversy when the sides last met back in January, at Folkestone's Cheriton Road ground, when his much-debated sending off that afternoon ultimately led to referee Gavin Hoare's infamous walk-off.

And stunned Invicta manager Neil Cugley said in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, he has never come across a referee that has admitted to making a mistake.

"This is the first time this has happened," he said.  "The referee phoned our secretary last night and admitted he had made a mistake, and on the report he's sending in he's trying to rescind it to a yellow card.

"I've been involved in football for a long time and I've never heard that one before.

"I don't know what to say.  Will it be good or bad? But you've got to give him credit as he's admitted to a mistake, but at the time of play it didn't help as we were every bit as good as they were."

The long-serving boss added: "It was a terrible decision.  We played well with ten men and we had a young goalkeeper who generally did quite well."

Due to injuries to key players, Cugley switched to a 5-3-2 formation to complement the players available to him.

"We played it a lot last year so it's not something we haven't done before," he said.

"We are a bit low on numbers as well, the formation suited the players that were available."

Following his harsh sending off against Heybridge Swifts, goalkeeper Tony Kessell replaces 18-year-old Kieron Mann for their trip to Chelmsford City (the game is being played at Billericay Town's ground) on Monday night.

Victory for Cugley's men will give them five points - the same total collected by the Essex side - and will aid their climb up the table.

"It's a big game and one we need to get points from." amitted Cugley, but he warned: "If we don't obviously we'll be looking to change things around with the playing staff.  

"Paul Parker (who was appointed assistant last week) and I will sit down and think what's about player wise and Paul may be able to get players from Essex/London to come down."

Folkestone travel to unbeaten Spartan South Midlands Premier League side St Margaretsbury in the FA Cup second qualifying round on Saturday.

Cugley, however, is going to treat the home side with the respect they deserve, after their league rivals, Billericay Town were on the end of a giant killing in the last round, being dumped out in a replay (3-2 after extra time) on the same ground Invicta are playing on tomorrow night.

"Paul (Parker) went to watch them last Tuesday and said they are a physically strong and committed side and unbeaten this year.

"So it isn't lucky they beat Billierciay so they are not a bad side.

"It's important financially for a club like Folkestone to stay in the cup as long as possible."

Matt Bower (knee) may be fit enough to play in the cup-tie, but Paul Jones (hamstring) and Kevin Watson (thigh) are about two weeks away from full fitness.

Chelmsford City v Folkestone Invicta
Ryman League Premier Division
Monday 19th September 2005
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Billericay Town FC, New Lodge, Blunts Wall Road, Billericay, Essex