The lads can’t wait to pit themselves against better players and a better team, says Matt Longhurst
The Deres are sitting proudly at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League table with five wins on the bounce.
Longhurst’s side defeated AFC Croydon Athletic 2-0 in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round to set up Sunday’s home clash against Ryman League Division One South Folkestone Invicta.
The winners face a massive incentive as they will host Ryman Premier League leaders Margate in the next round.
“We’re not getting carried away. It’s still only six games in and football can change overnight,” said Longhurst.
Reflecting on their last two league games, the former Corinthian boss said: “Saturday’s game was a tough physical battle and Rochester proved a fairly tough nut to crack.
“We played some good football at times on the tight pitch there and Adam Marsh scored possibly the best team goal of the season so far.
“We ran out fairly comfortably 3-0 winners and it was good to have Richmond Kissi in the squad after his suspension.
“Also Saturday saw Jake Britnell make his debut from the bench and saw the inclusion of (another Beckenham Town player) Joe Jackson on the bench. Another debutant was Lee Craig, who we have managed to bring in from Greenwich Borough.
“These lads have come in to bolster the squad with so many games coming thick and fast and are players that compliment the group both on and off the pitch.”
Erith & Belvedere defeated Sevenoaks Town 2-1 in the top-of-the-table clash at Park View Road on Bank Holiday Monday.
“Monday’s game against Sevenoaks was a tight affair and we won the game obviously very late on although I felt we were in control of the game for long periods,” said Longhurst.
“Sevenoaks will be up there in the league this year so it was an excellent result. It was something different going behind in a game and the lads responded brilliantly.
“We’ll face different struggles during the season and it’ll be interesting to see how the group deal with that as they come around.”
Folkestone Invicta arrive at Park View Road sitting in fifth-place in the Ryman League Division One South table with 11 points from six games.
Longhurst said: “Sunday is a massive game for the club and the team.
“It’s a chance to win valuable funds that a club like ours needs to run effectively year on year.
“We’re running a whole youth section with Ryman Under 18s and an under 21 team. All this costs money but it’s important we invest in the future of the club from top to bottom.
“We face an excellent team and manager that are proven at Ryman level and above, but that’s what football is all about.
“The lads can’t wait to pit themselves against better players and a better team.
“Of course we’re underdogs which in some respect helps as there is no pressure on us so we can just go out and play.
“We’ve had them watched a couple of times and trained on Thursday night going over in detail what we feel we can do to try and win the game, but as we all know this is a tough ask against a team that where a penalty shoot-out away from promotion last season.”
Longhurst is set to hand midfielder Kurtis Pykes his debut on Sunday, having signed him from League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge.
Longhurst has a good relationship with Daggers manager Wayne Burnett.
“Kurtis will add competition to the midfield area and we look forward to seeing him in the blue and white shirt,” said Longhurst, who cannot wait for Sunday’s stern test.
He added: “I’m looking forward to coming up against a good team and manager that play at a level above us and see where we are at.
“We have only been together a short while but we’ll be doing all we can do try and win the game.
“It’s the FA Cup. We won’t win it but come 5pm we’d like to still be in it.”
Folkestone boss Cugley, meanwhile, has done his homework on their opponents and knows the home side’s threats.
Striker Alfie May, who played for Chatham Town, Bromley and VCD Athletic last season, has become the first Erith & Belvedere player in their history to score ten goals in August.
Cugley told www.folkestoneinvictafc.co.uk: “They were relegated from Ryman One North at the end of last season, but they’re flying at the top of their league this time.
“There are some good teams at the top of what is the old Kent League and very little to choose between them and a fair number of the sides in our division.
“I know quite a few of their players, especially the strikers.
“Alfie May comes from a real footballing family, and most of them are strikers.
“I like another of their forward too. The lad (Richmond) Kissi, who was well up in the Ryman League goalscoring charts when he was at Redhill.”
Meanwhile, Cugley explained why he allowed midfielder Michael Yianni, 30, to return to his former club Hythe Town during the week.
“We are fairly settled in midfield and have options with others able to fill a number of roles in the side,” he said.
“Hythe came in for him and he’s had a talk with Timmy Dixon and decided he wants to go back to Reachfields.
“He’s at the age when he wants to be playing and I fully understand the way he feels.
“We could have insisted on Timmy Dixon waiting the seven days of course but Mike’s too good a lad to be messed around like that.
“He’s a smashing lad who is fun to have around, both on and off the field, but he needs to be playing more and that’s not something I can promise him at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Cugley allowed left-back Chris Elliott to sign for Ramsgate last night.
Meanwhile, admission prices for Sunday’s FA Cup Kent derby have been confirmed at £8 (adults); £5 (concessions) and £1 (under 14s).
Visit Erith & Belvedere’s website: www.erithbelvederefc.co.uk
Visit Folkestone Invicta’s website: www.folkestoneinvictafc.co.uk
Erith & Belvedere v Folkestone Invicta
The FA Cup Preliminary Round
Sunday 31st August 2014
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Park View Road, Welling, Kent DA16 1SY