Thursday 01st September 2005

Cugley aggrieved with Dover for being "disrespectful" to Dryden

Tuesday 9th
August 2005
James Dryden's Testimonial Stephen McCartney reports from the Buzzlines Stadium, Cheriton Road
Folkestone Invicta 3 Michael Everitt 49
Joe Neilson 81
Adam Flanagan 85
Dover Athletic 1 Walid Matata 5

Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley feels aggrieved that local rivals Dover Athletic failed to send their first team to the Buzzlines Stadium to honour James Dryden's testimonial tonight, writes Stephen McCartney.

The 25-year-old Invicta striker, holds the record number of senior appearances, and goals (95) for the Cheriton Road club, but it's the apathy shown towards his club by their local rivals that is upsetting the long serving boss.

Although his side fought back from an early goal down to win the game 3-1, in front of a estimated crowd of 500, Cugley admitted in an EXCLUSIVE interview with that he was "disappointed" with Dover Athletic for fielding a reserve side for the testimonial.

"Just disappointed really," he said after the game.  "After the sad thing with Paul Sykes in April, all the clubs locally were really getting on very well, and I just felt it's a bit disappointing that Dover put so many youngsters out.

"When it was arranged they said they would play their first team.  They actually chose the date to play the game.

"I just felt it was a little disrespectful against Jim really."

Only four Dover players listed in their 16-man squad in the match day programme were named in that squad, which was managed by Whites' reserve team manager, Gary Whittle.

But Dover stunned the home faithful by taking a deserved fifth minute lead.  Walid Matata, who was one of those players actually listed, although as a substitute, fired past Tony Kessell from eight yards, after Rob Smidmore and David Clifford combined down the left.

Both goalkeepers made fine saves in the first half, with Darren Smith making a fine block from former Ashford Town striker, Paul Jones, and at the other end, Kessell clawed out a header from Smidmore following a cross from the flank.

Dryden, whose been suffering from a dead leg for the past seven days, was substituted after 25 minutes, only to replace Kessell in between the sticks for the final 13 minutes.

"I'm afraid he's got a bit of a dead leg," Cugley said.  "He did very well to even get out there so I was pleased he played. 

"Obviously being his night we just felt it was only right for him to go in goal. 

"I think it's his third time he's been in goal, and hasn't let a goal in yet!"

However, It took the home side only four minutes after the interval to equalise.

Kevin Watson's right-footed free kick from 25-yards, took a deflection off the wall, and Michael Everitt claimed the goal that brought Invicta level.

Impressive Smidmore, however, got a good reception from the travelling faithful when he was substituted with 18 minutes to go.

But two goals in the final nine minutes sealed a perfect night for Dryden and Invicta fans, who were also upset by Dover Athletic's antics.

Paul Lamb sent in a low cross from the left, which was spilled by goalkeeper Darren Smith and young striker Joe Neilson punished the goalkeeper for his mistake, scoring with his first touch.

And in the 85th minute, Watson's right-footed free kick was met by a powerful header from Adam Flanagan from six yards.

"To be fair to the young Dover side they made it difficult for us," admitted Cugley.  "Obviously they were well up for it.  It was a big night for them and made it very difficult for us to get the game back after we went 1-0 down.

"I think (our players) were disappointed because Dover weren't that strong.  Our players, to be fair, were on the back foot, that didn't help really.  At half-time we had a bit of a gee-up and I thought we did a bit better during the second half."

Cugley praised Dryden's commitment to Invicta's cause, and is hoping for another 29 (or more) goals from his prolific young hit-man this season.

"He's a tremendous lad, he always gives everything he can, he works hard and he's improved as a footballer no-end in the last three years," praised Cugley.

"He is now a really good non-league player.  Folkestone are really glad to have him and it was nice to put on a good evening for him."

But Cugley added: "I think Jim's disappointed really, as he knows quite a few of the players that play for Dover and a few of them have played here before.

"I am disappointed with Dover.  I know they said they've got injuries and all that but why arrange the game, and agree to come and not play their strongest side?

"They (Dover) agreed to this fixture and agreed to bring the first team and they didn't do it.

"They keep saying they've got a squad of 20 players, so surely if they've got two or three injuries, they can still put out some of their other players?"

And in his programme notes, Dryden said: "I would like to thank everybody at the club for making me feel very welcome from the moment I first arrived hoping to make my way in the game.

"Particular thanks must go to Paul Fisk (now first team manager at Hythe Town) and Andy King who were the ones who really started to make things happen for me by putting me straight into the reserve team when I wasn't even getting a regular game with the youth team.

"It had been my hat-trick in two-and-a-half minutes against Andy Hessenthaler's Furness youth side, which really started to make things happen for me and saw me get into the reserve side.

"Special thanks also to Neil Cugley, who gave me my chance in the first team and for all his support during my time at the club.

"I am very proud to have broken both the club's senior appearance and goalscoring records, especially the goals one, which I had never expected to happen as I started out here as a left-wing back.

"During my time at the club I have formed partnerships with many great strikers including Nicky Dent, John Ayling, Steve Lawrence and Allan Tait, and am now looking forward to scoring more goals this season alongside Paul Jones and Simon Glover."

Folkestone Invicta: Tony Kessell (James Dryden 77), Kevin Watson, Paul Lamb, Adam Flanagan, Steve Norman, Scott Lindsey (Ben Sly 77), Michael Everitt (Dayne Southern 86), Matt Bower (James Everitt 65), James Dryden (Simon Glover 25), Paul Jones (Joe Neilson 77), Stuart Myall.

Dover Athletic: Darren Smith, Sam Vallance (James Farrier 86), David Clifford (Chris Steadman 33), Laurence Ball, James Gregory, Dale Skelton, Lee Scott, Kevin Lott (Capt), Walid Matata (Michael Smissen 77), Chris Wright, Rob Smidmore (John Ovard 72). Sub: Jordan Pettman (GK).

Referee: Ian Cooper (Hoo)
Assistants: Paul Kelly (Chatham) & Martin Staveley (Folkestone)