Isthmian Premier Division Sat 19 September The Fullicks Stadium
Folkestone Invicta
  • Smith (67')
  • Aguiar (41')
  • Pearce (51')

The Mackerels go into the opening day having enjoyed a largely successful pre-season, winning six of their eight matches since the return of football from suspension owing to COVID-19.

But despite the impressive-looking record, boss Hinsh admits his side have found the period challenging amid severely unprecedented circumstances:

“We’re looking forward to getting a season going again, we even had a pre-pre-season where we did some socially-distanced training, but it’s also been frustrating in terms of injuries and not having a settled squad to work with.

“It’s probably been our toughest pre-season so far, I don’t know whether it was down to the players having so long off before coming back into competitive games but it does seem to have hit everyone quite hard.”

Although obtaining a squad with notable absentees such as Darren Budd, Dayshonne Golding, Alfie Young and Jesse Starkey (suspended), Hishelwood insists on remaining positive for the challenges ahead, with tomorrow’s fixture being his first of three games within the next week:

“There’s no point crying about it, it is what it is and plenty of youngsters are going to get a chance as a result no doubt.”

Meanwhile, hosts Folkestone accumulated eight wins out a possible 10 from their pre-season fixtures, most recently holding National League side Dover Athletic to a 2-2 draw last Saturday.

Declared null and void in spite of Coronavirus, last season’s meetings between the two sides ended in victories for Folkestone:

The first came on the opening day at a blustery Buildkent Stadium, where Invicta ran out 2-0 winners – inflicting the Reds with what would be their only league defeat on the road all season.

The second came in mid-February, with former Worthing man Ira Jackson lashing in the only goal of the game in torrential conditions at the Crucial Environmental Stadium.

Hinsh, however, believes there is every opportunity the Reds can amend either blow suffered from the hosts last term:

“We’ll be going there with enough quality in our squad to make a game of it, and if luck falls on our side we’ll be even more of a threat.

“It’ll be a good game, they’re a top side but I think we are as well.”

The Mackerel Men’s last victory against Folkestone was a 1-0 win in March of 2019, when David Ajiboye scored with just two minutes remaining to bring all three points back to West Sussex.