The Hoops were unable to prevent Beckenham from returning to the
top of the table on Tuesday but Derek Hares’ side certainly gave it a decent
Beckenham scored their opening goal soon after the kick-off and their second in added time, but in between there was little to choose between the teams on a cold night when an uneven surface made sharp passing moves difficult and genuine chances were thin on the ground.
The game kicked off 15 minutes late because some of the Beckenham players were delayed en route to the Charles Ground but the visitors, who had led the table for over four months before Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Sheppey, quickly revealed their determination to regain the top spot. With just four minutes gone they won a free-kick just outside the Hoops’ area and when Joe Bannan’s shot came back off a post Kiki Oshilaja reacted quickest to prod the ball home.
Deal then suffered another blow soon afterwards when Ben Chapman had to go off injured, but as the half progressed they gradually began to test the powerful Beckenham backline who until the weekend had possessed the league’s best defensive record.
Neither ‘keeper however was seriously tested before half-time and that remained the case for much of the second half during which the Hoops competed admirably with their title-chasing opponents but too often produced a poor final ball in promising situations, especially from corners and free-kicks.
That weakness meant the long throw-ins of Jack Paxman remained Deal’s best route towards an equaliser and four minutes from time the tactic almost paid off. The wing-back launched another probing delivery to the near post and in the scramble that followed Alfie Foster’s snap shot struck the woodwork.
Having survived that scare Beckenham then snatched their second goal deep into added time when Steve Townsend robbed Hoops’ keeper James Tonkin of the ball on the edge of the area before running it into the unguarded net. It was harsh on the Hoops who, led by man-of-the-match Kane Smith, didn’t deserve to lose by a two-goal margin after the team effort they had put in but for Beckenham all that mattered was that they were back on top.
Deal: Tonkin, Paxman, Hark (Howard 75), Foster, Smith, Scott, Munday, Chapman (O’Brien 14), Chapman , Wilson, Walsh, Reeves.
Although Eric Diver now lives in Vancouver he remains a passionate Hoops’ supporter and next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the first match he