Two goals from Sam Wilson earned the Hoops a league “double” and provided a reminder of how much Deal have missed his striking instincts this season.
Wilson, starting only his second game after a three-and-a-half month injury absence, struck in both halves to help Deal achieve a repeat of their 2-1 victory over the Rams at the Charles Ground in December.
The Hoops, who had to borrow Croydon’s away kit after the car carrying their strip ran into traffic problems en route to the Mayfield Stadium, took the lead after just seven minutes when Wilson rounded the ‘keeper to score.
Deal then remained on top for the next 25 minutes and looked set to double their lead when one of the Rams’ players handled in the box. The referee showed the offender a red card and awarded the Hoops a penalty, but Steve O’Brien saw his spot kick superbly saved by the home goalie.
The Hoops then went off the boil and paid the price when Croydon, who had lost seven of their previous eight league games, equalised on the stroke of half-time through Umaro Alpha.
That acted as a “wake up call” for Derek Hares’ side who quickly regained their earlier control in the second half and after several near misses they went back in front in the 69th minute. Jack Paxman saw two shots blocked but the ball then rebounded to Wilson who scored with a spectacular overhead kick.
It was enough to earn the Hoops their sixth away league win of the season although they needed a fine save from James Tonkin in added time to deny the Rams a second equaliser.
Hares said: “It’s always good to get an away win in this league and the highlight was Sam Wilson’s two goals after his long injury lay-off.”
Deal: Tonkin, Hark, Smith, Foster (Maughan), O’Brien (Howard), Munday, Scott, Cardwell (Walsh), Paxman, Wilson. Coyne.