Josh Maughan chose a timely moment on Saturday to score his first goal for the club.
The central defender’s second-half strike ended the Hoops’ eight-match sequence without a victory and also earned Derek Hares’ side a league “double” over the Dockers, who they had beaten 3-0 at the Charles Ground in November.
Steve O’Brien, who scored twice that day, returned to the Hoops’ line-up after a five-match injury absence and Hares also handed a debut to Jude Arthurs, one of two Gillingham youth players currently on loan at the club.
And Arthurs was one of Deal’s stand-out players in an excellent team performance against a physically aggressive Erith side who had beaten Sheppey 4-1 in their previous league game.
There was little to choose between the teams in the opening 45 minutes and Hoops ‘keeper James Tonkin was only called into serious action once when making a good block with his legs.
Deal then started the second half in positive fashion and Sam Wilson and Dave Pilcher both went close before Maughan broke the deadlock, firing home after Erith failed to clear Pilcher’s 63rd-minute corner.
Erith’s response was led by much-travelled striker Carl Rook, but apart from one header which forced Tonkin into a superb save the former Hoops player was tightly marked by Alfie Foster and Rook’s frustration boiled over in the dying stages when he was sent off for dissent.
The Dockers’ 10 men kept plugging away in search of an equaliser but Liam Hark’s late goalline clearance ensured that Deal recorded their first victory of 2019, and head coach Steve King “tweeted” afterwards: “Delighted with the win today, not the prettiest but can’t fault the boys’ determination.”
Deal: Tonkin, Chapman, Foster, Hark, Maughan, O’Brien, A Miller (Reeves 78), Scott, Arthurs, Pilcher (C Miller 88), Wilson.