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Maidstone United Next In Town

 

                vs                    

 

After last Saturday’s highly entertaining 3-2 defeat against Dover Athletic, we welcome Maidstone        United for our next home pre-season game tomorrow (Tuesday). Last Saturday in their first pre-season game, ‘The Stones’ drew 1-1 at Herne Bay with Sam Corne getting a second half equaliser. Before I start the preview, thanks to Club Secretary Ian Tucker for allowing me to use information from their website.

‘The Stones’ had a disappointing season last time out, which ended in relegation from the Vanarama     National League as they finished bottom of the table, although they did have the consolation of retaining the Kent Reliance Kent Senior Cup with a 3-2 win on penalties against Bromley following a 1-1 draw after ninety minutes. However, with the highly experienced John Still as Manager and well regarded Hakan Hayrettin as his Assistant, they will be looking to bounce straight back to the Vanarama National League and Chief Executive Bill Williams gave an indication to their approach in getting the squad ready for the challenge when he mentioned in one of his recent bulletins “John, Hakan and I, along with their five-man scouting party, started a new recruitment programme about three months ago and they had identified over 40 players they felt could help improve the team. To date both John and Hakan have spoken to over 30 of those on their hit list and slowly the recruitment programme has begun to kick in”.

So far, this approach looks to be working well as they have brought in a number of good players who, along with those retained, should serve them well in the lower Division, having signed; goalkeeper Jake Cole (from Aldershot Town), defenders Noah Chesmain (Colchester United), Gavin Hoyte (Dagenham & Redbridge), Lewis Knight (St. Albans City), George Elokobi (Aldershot Town), Luke Penell (Dagenham & Redbridge, who is also an England ‘C’ international), Danny Devine (Gillingham), defender/midfielder Clovis Kamdjo (St. Albans City), plus forwards Jonathan Edwards (FC Halifax Town), Sam Corne (Ashford United), Iffy Allen (Braintree Town) and Nana Kyei (Barnet). 

In view of their squad strength, they are third favourites to win the Vanarama National League South at 8/1, behind Havant & Waterlooville (also relegated from the Vanarama National League last season) who are 6/1 favourites and Billericay Town a point behind at 7/1. The other Kent sides in the Vanarama        National League South are priced at; Dartford 12/1 (joint fourth favourites), Welling United 14/1, whilst Tonbridge Angels are second favourites to go down, priced at 33/1. The other side promoted from the Isthmian League Premier Division last season, Champions Dorking Wanderers, are just ahead of them at 25/1.      

For this season, ‘The Stones’ have started an Under 23 Development Team which will play in the          Suburban League, when they will compete against sides such as Aldershot Town, Bromley, Oxford City, Sutton United and Woking. It has recently been announced that former Invicta player/Assistant Manager Simon Austin will be in joint charge of the Development Squad with Kane Rice, both are former          Maidstone United players and they recently stepped down at Snodland Town, where they were also joint Managers. Bill Williams said; “This is an exciting and much-needed addition. Since our promotion from the Isthmian League, we’ve missed out by not having an under-23 league to offer to our Academy and under 18 players. We want to bring current and former Academy and youth players into the set-up and invite talented local players to apply. Alongside all the player development benefits, I think these matches will be attractive to some supporters who, for one reason or another, do not travel to away games. It’ll give them a quality game of football, closer to home”. John Still added: “I think the Development Squad will be another way of us finding players, I really do. You haven’t got to find loads but if you can get one or two into the first team squad, it serves its purpose. It’s a win-win because it will give people who want to play at a good level of football, who might not get the opportunity at a young age, a chance to do so. Community-wise it’s a fantastic thing for us to do too.” 

Neil Cugley was still in a buoyant mood when I spoke to him as he mentioned; “I’m delighted to be   welcoming my old friend John Still and his Maidstone team for our next pre-season game. Once again they will be a good challenge for our squad and I’m pleased to say that Matt Newman, Sam Hasler, Ian Draycott and back-up goalkeeper Joe Coleman should all be available for the game”. He then added; “Although the trialists did well on Saturday, it is great that we’ve got the other players returning and hopefully we shall play as well as we did on Saturday”. 

And finally, going back to John Still, who after a terrific career spanning more than forty years and 2,000 matches, was recognised by his peers with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the League Managers    Association (LMA) recently. On getting the Award, he said: “It came as a great surprise. I was absolutely delighted to receive that lifetime achievement award for all the hard work that you put in. When it’s      recognised, it’s lovely, there’s no doubt about that. I was dead chuffed to be absolutely honest.”   Congratulations John, an honour well deserved. 

Folkestone Invicta’s Pre-Season Fixtures and Results

July

Saturday 6th      Dover Athletic                    Home                    Lost        2-3                        

Tuesday 9th        Maidstone United            Home                    Kick-Off 7:45pm

Saturday 13th    Gillingham                           Home                    Kick-Off 3:00pm

Tuesday 16th     Faversham Town               Away                     Kick-Off 7:45pm

Saturday 20th    Hythe Town                        Away                     Kick-Off 3:00pm

Monday 22nd    Deal Town                           Away                     Kick-Off 7:45pm

Saturday 27th    Whitstable Town              Home                    Kick-Off 3:00pm (Sid Burvill Trophy)

Tuesday 30th     Ramsgate                            Away                     Kick-Off 7:45pm

August

Saturday 3rd      Ashford United                  Away                     Kick-Off 3:00pm

Saturday 10th    First League Game            TBA                        Kick-Off 3:00pm

As part of the ‘Fill the Fullicks 4 A Fiver’ offering all home pre-season games will be just £5.00 admission, with concessions only £3.00 and Under 18s £1.00.