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Good Evans! - Now its ‘The Gills'


Having already had two difficult pre-season games against Dover Athletic and Maidstone United, on Saturday we have what would appear to be our toughest so far when we entertain Sky Bet English Football League (EFL) League One Gillingham, who look like they will be bringing their full First Team squad to the Fullick’s Stadium. Once again we thank them for making what is their customary pre-season visit to Invicta, we have always had a good relationship with ‘The Gills’ and long may that continue.

Last Saturday, a strong Gillingham side won 9-1 at Faversham Town and then they went off for an intense seven day training camp with Manager Steve Evans saying; “We are going to the most fantastic facility, it’s incredible. It’s a spa, the players will be treated magnificently but they will be tired by the end of the week. When we go to Folkestone the players will be travelling really tired because they are going to have a real tough week – three sessions a day, some as early as seven in the morning, but they know it, they are ready for it, they are prepared for it and that brings the spirit together of everyone in the camp.”

Last season they had a difficult time and flirted with relegation for a large part of it, before eventually finishing 13th, five points away from the drop-zone. They did however, have a great Buildbase F.A. Cup run, defeating Premier League Cardiff City 1-0 at the Priestfield Stadium in the Third Round, before losing 4-1 at Sky Bet Championship side Swansea City in the Fourth. Despite this Cup run, Chairman Paul Scally decided things had to change and Manager Mark Lovell was replaced for the final two games of the season by Mark Pattison in a Caretaker Manager role. Then, towards the end of May, he appointed the vastly experienced Steve Evans as the permanent Manager.


Although Steve Evans is perhaps seen as one of the more controversial and colourful Managers in the EFL, he has managed a number of clubs at varying levels and had success at a number of them, from his first club Stamford, with whom he won the United Counties League Championship and promotion to the Southern League, to Rotherham United, who he guided to the Championship with a 4-3 victory on penalties after a 2-2 draw against Leyton Orient in the League One Play-off Final at Wembley plus others in between, so ‘The Gills’ will be aiming for a much better season this time out. On being appointed he said; “I think we need to be competitive on the sidelines and when you build competitive teams you’re not going to please opposition supporters. The Rainham End have seen my teams come here, they’ve seen a fairly exciting Peterborough United performance here. They know how we like to play, we like to be on the front foot, we like to play when we can with two strikers and we like to give plenty of width in our team. We want to give the fans a team that’s relentless but also have the ability to keep possession at times and hold on to the ball. They’ll not be disappointed with the style of play. They like to get it down in the right areas but it’s got to be in the right areas, we’re not Manchester City with two hundred million or whatever it is to spend, but we can be very effective.”

One of his first jobs on arriving at the club, was to rebuild the squad, as nine players were released at the end of the season, including former Folkestone Invicta goalkeeper Tom Hadler, who has now signed for Vanarama National League South Eastbourne Borough. So far he has brought in a number of players, the majority from higher Leagues, in goalkeeper Jack Bonham (signed from Brentford although he had a spell on loan at Bristol Rovers last season and kept a clean sheet in their 1-0 victory at Priestfield), defenders Connor Ogilvie (loan deal from Spurs made permanent, having spent the last two seasons at Priestfield), Lee Hodson (Glasgow Rangers, although he spent last season on loan at St. Mirren), Alfie Jones (season’s loan from Southampton), midfielders Stuart O’Keefe (Cardiff City), Matty Willock (Manchester United, although he had loan spells at St. Mirren and Crawley Town last season), Ousseynou Cissé (MK Dons, who has also represented Mali), winger Nathan Thomas (season’s loan from Sheffield United) and forward Mikael Ndjoli (season’s loan from Bournemouth).

Despite making the excellent signings mentioned and having Steve Evans in charge, they are surprisingly priced at 50/1 with BetVictor to win the Title, although they suffered a blow earlier this week, when their leading scorer for the past two seasons, Tom Eaves, signed a three year deal with Championship club Hull City. The favourites are Sunderland, who are 4/1 with Ipswich Town second at 5/1.

Neil Cugley can’t wait for the visit of Kent’s only EFL club, saying; “I’m looking forward to the Gillingham visit, we have had two good tests so far. The players are all looking very fit and on Saturday I should have almost the strongest squad available to pick from. I hear Gillingham have been away for the week since they beat Faversham, but I don’t think it was so they are ready for the might of Folkestone!”. He then added; “The only player who may not play is Jerson Dos Santos, he is planning to come down but with his hand injury it would be silly to risk him at this stage of the season, so we shall continue to monitor his progress”.  

Folkestone Invicta’s Pre-Season Fixtures and Results


Saturday 6th      Dover Athletic                    Home                    Lost        2-3                        

Tuesday 9th        Maidstone United            Home                    Drew     1-1        

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


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

BetVictor Isthmian League Match

Saturday 10th    WORTHING                 HOME                        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.