Two late goalline clearances by Wells’ defender Jake Hampson denied Deal their 10th home league win of the season on Saturday.
With the score at 1-1 and only two minutes of normal time remaining, Hampson somehow got back to keep out a Charlie Walsh lob and then in stoppage time the same player blocked Joe Reeves’ shot on the line.
So the Hoops had to settle for a point from a game in which they were clearly “second best” in the opening 45 minutes but then managed to step up a couple of gears after the break against an experienced Wells side who have under-performed for much of this season.
Hoops manager Derek Hares said: “I thought we looked a bit jaded in the first half after all the games we’ve had to play recently, but we responded well in the second half and were a bit unlucky not to nick it. The first goalline clearance (by Hampson) was brilliant and overall a draw was probably a fair result.”
Wells didn’t have a game in midweek while Deal had played on a heavy pitch at Cray Valley, and that seemed to make a difference in the opening half as the Hoops were sluggish all over the park. The visitors were quick to take advantage, with Jack Harris firing home a 25-yard effort after just five minutes which Deal ‘keeper James Tonkin tried unsuccessfully to palm over the bar.
That set the tone for much of the rest of the half, with Wells always looking the more likely to score especially when their big centre-half Perry Spackman went forward for corners and free-kicks.
But the Hoops managed to keep the deficit to one goal at half-time and they were much “quicker out of the blocks” at the start of the second half, resulting in a 48th-minute Alfie Foster equaliser from the penalty spot after the same player had been tripped in the box.
From that point on it was the Hoops who were asking most of the attacking questions but several near misses, including those two goalline clearances, meant they had to settle for just a point and their disappointment was compounded by the straight red card shown to Walsh for a late two-footed lunge at Harris in the dying seconds.
Deal: Tonkin, Paxman, Hark, Bigginton, Scott (Hill 43), Foster, Reeves, Butcher, Wilson, Walsh, Sahadow (Chapman 44).