The Hoops were left stunned by a four-goal first half blast as Crowborough swept to their second big league win in a row on Saturday.
Having crushed Corinthian 7-1 in their previous league outing, the Sussex outfit almost repeated the feat against a Deal side who again found hitting the net a decidedly more difficult proposition.
The absence of leading scorer Joe Reeves through injury didn’t help, nor did the loss of centre-half Grant Bagley who had to be substituted after just 22 minutes because he was feeling unwell. But even taking those two factors into account Crowborough’s attacking sharpness, especially in the first half, was impressive to watch.
They went in front after 20 minutes when Henry Muggeridge’s near-post cross was cleverly volleyed home by John Trotter, and two minutes after Bagley’s departure Deal were caught out by a quick break which ended with Zac Attwood sidefooting home Sam Carrington’s pass.
At the other end Jack Paxman, playing further forward in place of Reeves, set up a chance which Connor Coyne was unable to take before Paxman himself saw his shot on the turn blocked by Crows’ keeper Dan Ellis.
But the rest of the half belonged to the visitors as first Ross Treleaven drove home a 30-yard free kick via the underside of the crossbar before producing a superb flick which enabled Carrington to make it 4-0 just before the break.
That meant the second half was something of a “damage limitation” exercise for Deal but they were handed an early boost when Paxman was needlessly bundled over in the Crowborough box, allowing Dean Hill to pull one back from the penalty spot.
With the Crows appearing reasonably content to sit on their lead, Deal did enjoy more territorial possession and they were denied a second penalty when substitute Dan Adams looked to be the victim of a late tackle.
But this was Crowborough’s day and they rubbed salt into the Hoops’ wounds in the last 10 minutes through midfielder Henry Muggeridge’s eighth goal of the season and a second free-kick effort from Treleaven.
Deal: Waymark, Hark, Bagley (A Coyne 22), Bigginton, Hill, Scott (Smith 74), Paxman, Anderson, Walsh (Adams 62), Miller, C Coyne.