A late double strike by Sheppey’s Dan Bradshaw sent the Hoops to defeat in their final home game of the season on Easter Monday.
Leading through a Josh Maughan goal just before half-time, Deal were undone twice in the dying stages. First, a powerful 82nd-minute run into the box by Sheppey substitute Liam Irvine set up Bradshaw’s equaliser, and then six minutes later the prolific striker took his tally for the season to 37 with a header in off a post from Ryan Lewis’s cross.
The second goal stemmed from a Sheppey throw-in which was poorly defended by a Hoops side who had started the game still looking deflated by their five-goal defeat at Corinthian two days earlier.
Sheppey, however, were also a side short on confidence after six defeats in their previous seven games and, with Macauley Murray pulling the strings in midfield, Deal slowly built up a head of steam in the first half which was rewarded a minute before the break when Maughan headed home a Steve O’Brien corner.
The Hoops then managed to preserve their slender advantage for most of the second half, which saw a 13-minute break in play after Sheppey ‘keeper Aaron-Lee Wharton collapsed in his six-yard box complaining of chest pains while play was in the Deal half. The ‘keeper was carried off and later taken to hospital by ambulance, with Sheppey centre-half Jono Richardson taking over in goal.
When the game resumed Sam Wilson went close to doubling Deal’s lead with a sharp turn and shot but instead it was Sheppey who finished the strongest and Bradshaw, who had scored twice in their 3-1 home win over the Hoops in the opening weeks of the season, again proved the difference.
One consolation for Deal was that the game attracted an attendance of 202, their highest gate of the season, and the match also saw the final appearance at the Charles Ground in a Hoops shirt of Danny Smith who has decided to “hang up his boots” after a distinguished 17-year career with the club during which he made a total of 489 appearances.
Deal: Tonkin, Chapman, O’Brien, Maughan, Foster, Murray, B Munday, Pilcher (J Munday 78), Coyne (Reeves 68), Wilson, Alexander (D Smith).