An unhappy week for the Hoops continued on Saturday as they suffered their third loss in the space of eight days.
After being knocked out of the FA Vase by Consett and then losing at Kennington in the League Challenge Cup they were beaten at home by an Erith Town side who as a result have leapfrogged Deal in the table.
But manager Derek Hares was at least able to draw some consolation from seeing his side produce an improved performance compared to their insipid display at Kennington in midweek, saying: “Maybe the long journey to Consett had something to do with it but we just weren’t at the races against Kennington, but I couldn’t fault the players’ commitment or desire today and to be honest I thought we were the better team.”
On a heavy Charles Ground pitch which had only narrowly passed a morning inspection the Hoops created plenty of shooting opportunities but it was one of those days where they rarely managed to hit the target, never mind seriously test Erith ‘keeper Adam Molloy, and so a goal in each half from Danny Gannon was enough for the Dockers to complete a league “double” over Deal this season.
The Hoops were again missing a number of players through injury but they were at least able to welcome back striker Sam Wilson after his three-month absence and Wilson looked sharp and eager upfront before inevitably fading as the game wore on. And with Ben Chapman, Connor Coyne, Jack Paxman and Lee Scott all shooting wide from promising first-half positions it meant that Erith went in at the break leading through Gannon’s 34th-minute half volley after Billy Munday’s intended clearing header fell at Gannon’s feet eight yards out.
With the rain and wind increasing and the pitch becoming even more energy-sapping the second half soon developed into a test of character for the young Deal side after their already tiring week and, as Hares rightly pointed out, they couldn’t be faulted in that regard with centre-half Alfie Foster and midfielder Scott particularly prominent. But moments of clinical Hoops’ finishing in the Erith box were still missing and Gannon again showed them how it was done two minutes into added time when he was presented with the opportunity by Steadman Callender’s quick break.
There was still time for Scott to seal his Hoops’ man-of-the-match award a minute later by heading home from close range following good work by substitute Troy Howard, but it came much too late to deny the Dockers all three points and a disappointed Hares added: “I don’t like to use it as an excuse but when you have got five or six players missing through injury it does take its toll, especially with the amount of games we’ve had to play lately.”
Deal: Tonkin, Paxman, O’Brien, Bigginton (Howard 75), Foster, Maughan, Munday (Walsh 59), Scott, Wilson, Chapman, Coyne (Reeves 64).