Hoops manager Derek Hares made no excuses after watching his side’s year-long unbeaten league record at the Charles Ground come to an end.
The game took place with heavy rain and a strong wind blowing across the pitch, which inevitably cut up as the game progressed, and Hares admitted: “In the end it all boiled down to the fact that they adapted to the difficult conditions better than we did.”
After a poor start to the season Wells’ results have picked up in recent weeks and they started Saturday’s contest, which marked the 60-year anniversary of league meetings between the clubs, in buoyant fashion. Right-wing back Ola Williams in particular caused Deal problems with his pace and Wells took a deserved lead after 25 minutes through Jason Thompson ’s deflected drive.
Up to that point the Hoops had hardly threatened but five minutes later they equalised when, following Steve O’Brien’s free kick, a hectic goalmouth scramble ended with Alfie Foster forcing the ball home.
Wells, however, were soon back in front with a goal which could clearly be attributed in part to the conditions. As James Tonkin left his line to collect a high free-kick into the box, the ball was held up by the wind allowing Lewis Mingle to get there first and head past the Deal ‘keeper.
The Hoops’ best attacking moments were stemming from O’Brien’s set-pieces and Sam Wilson’s back header from another of the left-back’s free kicks almost dragged Deal level again just before half-time.
But they started the second half still in arrears and aware that, against the strong wind and a physically bigger Wells side, they would have to dig deep to preserve their unbeaten home league record which stretched back to the 4-1 defeat by Canterbury on December 23rd last year.
And although Connor Coyne went close soon after the restart with a sweet turn and shot, for the most part the Wells defence coped confidently with what Deal managed to throw at them, especially after the visitors added a third goal midway through the half. Josh Maughan tripped Dane Moore in the box and Jamie Humphris converted the spot kick.
Hares added: “It’s disappointing to lose our unbeaten home record but Wells deserved to win and now we’ve just got to pick ourselves up and go again, starting with Tuesday’s cup game here against Punjab United.”
Deal: Tonkin, Hark, O’Brien, Maughan,Foster (Scott 46), Bigginton, J Munday (Cardwell 61), A Miller (C Miller 77), Coyne, Wilson, B Munday.