Goals in each half from Connor Coyne and Dean Hill gave Deal the vital victory they needed on Saturday to avoid slipping nearer to the Southern Counties East League relegation area.
But they made hard work of it against a Fisher side who produced a determined display which belied their bottom-of-the-table position, as Hoops manager Derek Hares acknowledged afterwards: “I thought Fisher, who are fighting for their lives, were the better side in the first half when we were off the pace.
“But we were a lot better in the second half and deserved to win over the 90 minutes and, to be fair, today was all about winning for us because as well as we have played in the last couple of months, we’ve not picked up the points we should have done.”
Deal’s last league success had been at Fisher in mid-October and when the Hoops took the lead after just nine minutes of Saturday’s re-match, with Coyne pouncing on a loose ball after Hill’s initial shot had been blocked by Fisher keeper Ricky Wadman, home supporters were briefly able to relax in the hope that Deal’s first league “double” of the season would be achieved in straightforward fashion.
But instead the Bermondsey visitors were back on level terms less than two minutes later, with Spencer Forte heading home from virtually on the Deal goalline following a corner, and for the remainder of the half it was Fisher, with the robust Dan Lawson controlling the midfield area, who looked the more likely side to add to their tally.
They certainly deserved to go in at the break on level terms but the Hoops, having received a half-time “blast” from Hares and coach Steve King, were a different proposition in the second half – helped by regaining the lead within two minutes of the restart.
Hill forced the ball home from close range following an inswinging Dan Adams corner, and from that point on it was Deal who always looked the more likely goalscorers, especially from corners and free-kicks which always put the diminutive Wadman under severe pressure.
Deal had one effort cleared off the line and another “goal” disallowed for a foul on Wadman and although James Tonkin at the other end hardly had a save to make in the second half, all the time it remained at 2-1 there was always the nagging fear for home fans that “the Fish” would snatch a second equaliser out of nowhere.
But, with man-of-the-match Grant Bagley standing firm in central defence, Deal duly clung on to a very welcome three points.
Deal: Tonkin, Paxman (Reeves 68), Hark, Hill, Bagley, Anderson, Philpott, Munday (Scott 58), Adams (Walsh 80), Coyne, O’Brien.