Thursday 22nd December 2005

East Kent rivals need to secure valuable points

Much needed points and local bragging rights are up for grabs as Folkestone Invicta visit Harstdown Park for the mouth-watering prospect of an East Kent Derby on Boxing Day. This is a game that the fans have been waiting for since the fixture list was announced in the summer, given extra spice by the increasing need for both sides to secure valuable points to help ensure Premier Division safety, writes Steve Wells - www.margate-fc.com

The last time the two sides competed in the league was in the 2000/01 season when Margate went on to win the Southern League Championship. Then, Margate secured four of the six points on offer against Invicta with a home win and a draw. At Hartsdown on Boxing Day in 2000, Margate won 3-2 with Iain O’Connell scoring twice and Lee Williams with the other. This result took Gate back to the top of the league. At Cheriton Road later in the season, the two sides played out a dramatic 2-2 draw. Mark Munday scored both of Margate’s goals, but the home side hung on to the lead with nine men until the 81st minute. John Keister and Bill Edwards are the only Margate survivors of those games.

Gate and Invicta have also met three times in the Kent Senior cup since 2002. Back then, Margate ran out 2-1 winners at Cheriton Road at the Quarter Final stage. Then in 2004, Gate won the competition beating Folkestone in the final, again at Cheriton Road. Of course the last time the two sides met was in last year’s abandoned semi-final that saw the tragic loss of Paul Sykes.

In last week’s game at Claremont Road against Hendon, Margate played well in securing the win despite some nervous moments at the back at times. Bertie Brayley and Hasim Deen particularly looked very good in midfield, and at last Margate look to have other attacking options.

Currently 14th in the league, Margate are five places but just two points ahead of Folkestone Invicta having played one more game. The “goals for” column for both teams is pretty similar, but Neil Cugley's side have conceded eight more.

The current form table (last six games) sees Margate ranked one place below their visitors, on goal difference. A return of seven from a possible 18 points includes wins over Hampton & Richmond and Hendon, a draw against Bromley and defeats to East Thurrock United, Heybridge Swifts and Leyton.

For the Blues, Lawrence Yiga remains suspended. The club have also confirmed that Leon Braithwaite, Ellis Remy and James Corbett have all been released from their registrations. Manager Chris Kinnear is currently negotiating terms to bring in a loan goalkeeper for the Folkestone game on Boxing Day to allow Charlie Mitten the rest time he needs to recover from his hip and his back problem.

Invicta finished last season in 14th in the league. This season has seen them do extremely well in the FA Cup - eventually going out to Football League side Chester City. But - perhaps because of their cup success, league form has suffered.

Currently 19th in the league, Folkestone are just one place above the bottom three, and on the same number of points as Maldon Town, although Invicta do have two games in hand. Current form sees  Cugley’s side in the bottom third of the form table having taken seven from a possible 18 points following two wins, a draw and three defeats - the most concerning defeats being those to Windsor and Hendon.

The recent loss of record striker James Dryden to Dover was a blow to the Stripes. Dryden was a firm favourite with the fans, but given the inevitability of his departure, Invicta were pleased to land Walid Matata as part of the deal. A further blow to Folkestone saw club captain and player-coach Scott Lindsey leaving club for personal reasons.

Margate v Folkestone Invicta
Ryman Premier League
Boxing Day, Monday 26th December 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Hartsdown Park, Hartsdown Road, Margate