Folkestone explore a French connection

Saturday 22nd July 2006

Folkestone Invicta travel the short distance along the coast today where they will take on Hythe Town at the Reachfields Stadium in what will be the Seasiders fourth pre season friendly, writes Andy Bown and Tom Marchant -


In midweek Invicta went to the Homelands to play Ashford Town in a game which ended 1-1.

Centre back Lee Shearer scored Folkestone’s goal and former Hythe Town striker Richard Sinden scored an equaliser in the dying moments to pull one back for the Nuts and Bolts.

“In the ninety minutes I thought we played well and it could’ve been five or six nil. We hit the bar once, the post twice and to be fair their keeper had an outstanding game,” said Invicta boss Neil Cugley.

Young centre back Liam Friend a player from the ever flourishing Invicta youth setup took his place in the heart of the Folkestone defence alongside Shearer and captain Adam Flanagan.

Friend, however, was unlucky with the Ashford goal and Cugley added: “Liam (Friend) made a mistake but he’ll learn from that and that’s what these friendlies are all about.

“At any level you’ve got to take your chances and not make mistakes at the back. But he has done ever so well and remember he’s still only 17 and he’s a big lad.

“Centre halves, particularly left sided centre halves like Liam are very difficult to get hold of and he’s a great prospect”.

The game against Ashford was the proverbial ‘game of two halves’. Invicta started slowly in the first half with and took a while to establish a firm grasp of the game.

After a few changes at half time, the Seasiders rediscovered their attacking instincts and created a number of good chances, justifiably feeling slightly aggrieved at not converting more than the one.

Cugley explained the reasons behind the improved second half showing.

“Well the fitness obviously, we got better. But I’ve got to say the pitch was very poor. I don’t know whether you could see from where you were but it was terrible and very bobbly.

“I think the players when they arrived at the ground were very disappointed. I also didn’t feel our midfield got tight enough to their midfield in the first half and we rectified that and that’s why we got hold of the game.

“At half time I did have a bit of a go at the players to get the tempo up and to be fair they responded well”.

The Invicta manager was particularly pleased with the number of chances his side created saying, “On Wednesday (against Ashford) we created a lot more chances and that is important. On another day we could’ve scored a lot more!

“I thought Walid was excellent when he came on at half time, I think Matt Carruthers is playing well and Jonesy is getting back to his best but that’ll take another couple of weeks and the same with Robby Knott.”

Two players were not in the squad against Ashford; player-coach Mark Saunders and local midfielder Micheal Everitt.

The Folkestone boss revealed: “Mark (Saunders) to be fair has been really fit and has taken all the training and because of that he’s done more running than all the other players. Mev had a bit of a swollen ankle and anyone who has got an injury won’t be risked at all.”

One player to be given his first chance on the field was French player Simo Kayo Bertin, who came on in the second half. Cugley was impressed with the trialist expressing: “I thought he was very good with his header hitting the bar and he played some good balls. He’ll definitely be involved at Hythe and I think he’ll start as we want to make a decision on him.

“But with the way he did against Ashford I don’t think that will be a problem for him. He is very very fit and he’s trained very hard. His commitment is impressive as well, as he’s always turned up and he’s trained with the reserves and last week he trained with the first team.

“It’s up to him now though really in the next couple of games. For him it’s very difficult as to be honest he doesn’t know anybody and his English isn’t the greatest. So considering all that he’s doing really well and so we’ll give him a few more games to see how he does”.

Simo Kayo Bertin may not be the only French player that Invicta will be watching in the pre season. Cugley divulged, “There may be another French lad there today (against Hythe). I’m talking to him at the moment and hopefully he’ll be there and he might start as well. I’ve got to speak to him again before the game but I will say that he has been a full time professional in France”.

Three players won’t be in the squad for the Hythe game; young striker Rob Knott, experienced left back Paul Lamb and Wednesday night’s goal scorer Lee Shearer.

Cugley said: “Those lads are unavailable today. It doesn’t really matter and I rather they get all these sorts of things out the way before the season starts.

“We’ve got a couple of them going on holiday soon as some are teachers so they can only go off at certain times but I’ve got no complaints about that.

“They’ve all been to the training sessions and it’s just something you get round. That’s what pre season is all about and it’ll give me a chance to have a look at some other players tomorrow!”

Today’s game with Hythe is likely therefore to see more chances given to some of the young players coming through the youth system and Neil has been pleased with their progress.

“I have been impressed with all the youngsters,” said Cugley. “Simon Rainbow has done ever so well, Knotty we know about from last year and Ben Sly and Joe Neilson have done well too”.

Cugley is not unknown to Hythe Town manager Paul Fisk as Fisk was at the Buzzlines Stadium as reserve team manager before he went to the Reachfields based outfit.

Cugley, who sat beside Fisk during the game at Homelands on Wednesday, said: “I obviously get on well with Paul Fisk from his time at the Club and I think to be fair I was one of the people who told him to go get that job and I think he’s done a great job down there.

“I think on paper they’ve got the strongest side down there that they’ve had in a long time. Hythe is a nice little club and it’s only about a 100 metre walk from my house so I can have a couple of beers afterwards and then walk home!”

The Hythe squad does contain a number of ex Folkestone players such as Roy Guiver and newly signed John Walker amongst others and Cugley said: “I like going down there and obviously they’ve got players who want to prove a point and probably about half of them or maybe more have been with Folkestone so they’ll want to prove something which is fair enough I think”.

Looking forward to the reserve team game against Dover Athletic reserves, Cugley was keen to point out to the Folkestone faithful that it will be strong squad at the Buzzlines Stadium on Monday (24th July). He stated: “It’ll be a strong reserve side with the Joe Neilson’s, Robby Knott, Simon Rainbow and others so we want people to try and get down to the ground to watch it”.

Hythe Town v Folkestone Invicta
Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday 22nd July 2006
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Reachfields Stadium, Fort Road, Hythe