Sunday 31st July 2005

Cugley relishing competition for places

Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley is relishing the chance of taking his side to AFC Wimbledon on the opening day of their Ryman Premier League campaign, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Buzzlines Stadium, Cheriton Road outfit travel to Kingsmeadow on Saturday 20th August, and Cugley admits his side are capable of causing an upset against the well-supported hosts.

"I think it's a great one to start with," he said in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk

"There's going to be (at least) 3,500 people there.

"It will be like a big cup final for us and we can go there and we might shock them.

"We will go there and attack them and see what they're made off."

Cugley is trying to install another style of football to their armoury as they prepare for their second season in this league, having finished in fourteenth place last term.

"I think you'll see us play a lot more football than last year," he said.

"We've got a good team spirit, a lot more commitment but we didn't play enough football last season.

"With Paul Jones (a summer signing from neighbours Ashford Town) and Stuart Myall in the side, they're excellent footballers and they'll make us pass the ball better.

"This is what we have been working on in training, to pass the ball better."

Cugley - who joined the club from Ashford Town in 1997 - is pleased midfielder Martin Chandler is back in the squad, having worked his way back to fitness following a knee injury.

"It's a bit of a bonus really as he has had a bad knee and we didn't know if he would figure this year," he said.

"He hasn't signed for us yet, but hopefully he'll have a few more games and we'll talk to him then."

But Cugley is delighted that there will be competition for places this season with youngsters Joe Neilson, Simon Rainbow, James Everitt, Ben Sly and goalkeeper Kieran Mann all knocking on his door, after impressing in pre-season.

He said: "They've done ever so well and they will figure and suddenly after having a squad of 13 or 14, as we've had in the past, these lads can come in and do a job for us.

"Last year was a bit hard sometimes as we were down to a minimum and no competition for places either.

"That doesn't help as players need to have a kick up the bottom and get them to lift their game sometimes."

And Cugley knows his side will be tested again this season, adding: "It's going to be a strong league this year.

"We've got a very difficult start and  that will test us."