Dartford have got good players and have a big squad and it will be a very difficult game for us, but we’ll give it a right go, says Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley

Sunday 15th May 2022

FOLKESTONE INVICTA manager Neil Cugley is hastily putting his band back together to play their 60th game of a gruelling season on Tuesday night.

Folkestone Invicta completed their 42-match Isthmian League Premier Division campaign with a 4-4 draw at Haringey Borough on Saturday 23 April, before winning a hastily-arranged Kent Senior Cup Semi-Final tie at Hythe Town four days later.

Cugley’s side finished in sixth-place in the table with 72 points on the board, missing out on the play-offs by four points.

The Kent Senior Cup Final against holders Dartford and Folkestone Invicta was expected to take place in pre-season, however, the Kent Football Association have given both clubs seven days’ notice and the showpiece final will now take place in Chatham on Tuesday, 17 May instead.

Dartford completed their 40-match Vanarama National League South campaign in fourth-place with 74 points on the board.

Steve King’s side played their last league game on Saturday 7 May, coming away from Eastbourne Borough with an impressive 7-2 win.

However, the Darts’ promotion bid was ended in a cruel manner, losing their home play-off eliminator to Chippenham Town, going down 3-2 on penalties after a goal-less 120 minutes of football at Princes Park last Thursday night.

“We started training last 1 May and 54 weeks later we’re still together so all credit to the lads, they’ve been great,” Cugley told the club’s media channels.

“It’s been a big shock to us. When I found out we got the game, we’re alright, we’ve phoned round and the players have been good.  Some of them have come back from holiday early or have put things off. 

“We’ve not got a bad side out there in the end, squad wise we’re a little bit depleted on the bench but nothing new for Folkestone, so we’ll get on with it and try to put on a good show.

“Having three weeks off and then having a game is a bit strange.”

Dartford are the holders after thrashing then Isthmian League South East Division side Whitstable Town 6-1 in the delayed 2019-20 Final on 24 November 2021 at Princes Park.

Folkestone Invicta have suffered Kent Senior Cup Final heartbreak having lost all of their previous five finals, while Dartford have won the silverware on 12 occasions.

Folkestone have lost to W
elling United (1-0 in 1999); Gravesend & Northfleet (3-0 in 2000); Margate (2-1 in 2004); Sittingbourne (3-1 in 2010) and Maidstone United (lost 4-3 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in 2018).

“Dartford have got good players and have a big squad and it will be a very difficult game for us, but we’ll give it a right go,” added Cugley.

“Most of (my players) will be there and it will be nice to see them again. We all said goodbye a long time ago, not that long ago and now we’re saying hello again. It’s been an incredible 54 weeks.

“It’s a shame we haven’t done quite well in (Kent Senior Cup Finals in the past).  This year has been nice. We’ve had a FA Cup run and the Trophy run and the Velocity Trophy Semi-Final, so it’s nice to get to a final and hopefully do ourselves justice and finish off the season.  I think we are finishing off, unless something gets thrown at us again, I wouldn’t be surprised.”

“Dartford are a good side. The last time we played them it was really difficult and hopefully we can put on a show.

“I think I’m right in saying Alfie Paxman and Dave Smith have played in every game, which is an incredible achievement for those two lads and a lot of them have played over 50 games, so all credit to the lads. We’ve got our money’s worth out of them this year anyway.

“We thought the last game was Hythe away and we had loads of supporters behind the goal supporting the players and hopefully we can get loads there on Tuesday.”

Dartford have beaten Dover Athletic (2-1), Margate (4-2) and Welling United (5-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw) to reach the final.

Folkestone Invicta have beaten VCD Athletic (3-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw), Ebbsfleet United (3-1) and Hythe Town (2-0).

The game will go straight to penalties if scores are level after 90 minutes.

Tickets must be purchased in advance, online by clicking here

Folkestone Invicta  v  Dartford
Kent Senior Cup Final
Tuesday 17 May 2022
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Maidstone Road Sports Ground, Bournville Avenue, Chatham, Kent ME4 6LR