Lee Scott’s 93rd-minute equaliser saved the Hoops from their
third home defeat of the season on Saturday.
The midfielder popped up with a rare goal just when it looked as though Deal were going to suffer a surprise setback at the hands of a Welling Town team who had lost their previous nine matches in all competitions.
Relieved Hoops manager Derek Hares admitted afterwards: “It was a frustrating game and, if I’m being honest, I thought we were poor in the first half. But we were better in the second half and created three or four good chances and if we had scored our second goal a bit earlier we would probably have gone on and won it. But the important thing is that we didn’t lose and now we can focus on next week.”
With that last comment Hares was referring to the Hoops’ FA Vase trip to Consett where he knows his side will need to produce a better performance than they managed in the opening 45 minutes against Welling. Too often Deal were wasteful in possession against a team whose confidence must have been low after their recent wretched run, and Welling probably feared it wasn’t going to be their day again when the Hoops snatched the lead “out of the blue” with their first real chance after 21 minutes.
Full-back Liam Hark floated in a cross which Connor Coyne headed over Welling ‘keeper Lee Kidman, but 10 minutes later the Boots were “gifted” an equaliser by a mistake which summed up Deal’s poor first-half display. Owen Kallmeier, deputising in goal for the holidaying James Tonkin, threw the ball out to Steve O’Brien in lots of space but the left-back’s intended pass to Scott instead went straight to the feet of Malik Ouani who said “thanks very much” with a crisp low finish from the edge of the area.
And Ouani, who proved a handful for the Hoops’ backline all game, then turned “creator” eight minutes later with a clever cross which enabled the unmarked James Day to head Welling into an interval lead.
The Hoops didn’t need telling by Hares that they had to “up” their game in the second half and they duly did so, starting with Coyne almost scoring with a 35-yard lob just three minutes after the restart. And one area where Deal did continually threaten was down Welling’s left flank, first through Jack Paxman and then substitute Joe Reeves, but it seemed the Hoops weren’t going to be able to convert the pacy duo’s good work into more goals as Ben Chapman (twice), Jack Penny and Reeves himself with a volley against the bar all went close as the minutes ticked away.
However, deep into injury-time, Reeves delivered another superb cross and although Kidman blocked Chapman’s initial effort, Scott was on hand to scramble home the loose ball for his first goal for over a year – and a very timely one at that.
Deal: Kallmeier, Hark, O’Brien (Penny 64), Maughan, Foster, Munday (Reeves 54), Paxman, Scott, Coyne (Lewis 59), Walsh, Chapman.