By Natalie Benville

An injury-time “winner” from substitute Harris Rodgers lifted the Hoops into third place in the SCEL Premier Division table on Saturday.
Rodgers ran on to a Sam Wilson header before sweetly lobbing ‘keeper Adam Highsted to give Deal their second victory over the league newcomers in the space of eight days.
But K Sports made sure that this latest Hoops’ success was achieved with considerably more difficulty than their 4-1 FA Vase win at Aylesford the previous weekend. The visitors were purposeful and combative right from the start and, despite having captain George Snelling sent off early in the second half, they made Deal wait a long time before finally securing the three points.
Hoops manager Derek Hares said: “To be fair I thought K Sports played pretty well and it was the sort of game that maybe a year or two ago we would have lost. But the difference now is that we have got players like Harris who can come off the bench and change the game.”
The opening stages of the match saw the Hoops struggling to get out of second gear and they needed some typically resolute defensive work from man-of-the-match Kane Smith to keep K Sports at bay. And, although Deal did gradually pick up the pace, half-time arrived with the scoreline still goalless.
But that situation quickly changed in the second half and it was the “Paper Boys” who broke the deadlock through a 49th-minute Jason Perry penalty after Alfie Foster had fouled Tom Carr in the box.
Deal now knew they had a fight on their hands to maintain their long unbeaten home record, which stretches back to last December, and it looked like it was going to be “one of those days” after what happened six minutes later. The Hoops were awarded a penalty when Sam Wilson was brought down from behind by Snelling, who was shown a straight red card by referee Jack Hill, but Steve O’Brien then saw his spot-kick saved low to his right by Highsted.
However, a little over a minute later Deal did equalise after Connor Coyne’s header set up a shooting opportunity which Joe Reeves gratefully accepted, and when Wilson thumped a header against the woodwork soon afterwards the Hoops seemed poised to take full command.
But the visitors’ remaining 10 men had other ideas and they continued to frustrate Hares’ team while also creating the occasional attacking threat themselves, and it looked as though Deal were going to have to settle for a draw before Rodgers pounced for his fourth goal of the season.
Hares added: “It was a frustrating game and I thought the boys showed great character to keep going until the end, and with just one defeat in our first eight league games I’ve got to be happy with that.”
Deal: Tonkin, Hark (Howard 74), K Smith, Bigginton, O’Brien, Scott, Foster (Alexander 61), Cardwell, Wilson, Coyne (Rodgers 73), Reeves.
Att: 117

One Response

  1. “Have a fight on their hands”?
    Rather appropriate, considering the shocking scenes that took place on the pitch after the game had finished?
    I hope the referee reports the visitors to the league in his report. Teams should not be allowed to get away with that sort of behaviour ?
    Well done to the team for picking up three points on the day. Same again for Saturday ! ?

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