An early Connor Coyne goal was enough to earn Deal their fourth away league win of the season at Bearsted on Saturday.
Coyne struck after just seven minutes, finishing off a fine move involving Jack Paxman and Dan Adams, and the Hoops then produced a resolute defensive display – with skipper Dean Hill outstanding – to achieve their first clean sheet for 13 matches.
And, after conceding 12 goals in their previous three games, that last statistic will have been particularly pleasing for manager Derek Hares, especially as the Hoops were again missing several players through injury, unavailability or suspension.
Fortunately, Luke Bigginton was able to make his first appearance for two months after recovering from a knee injury and that early Coyne goal gave the young Hoops side an important lift on a heavy pitch which made good football difficult for both sides, and where chances were few and far between.
The remainder of the first half saw Sam Wilson denied by the Bears’ keeper in a one-on-one situation while at the other end Liam Hark cleared a Bearsted effort off the line to keep the Hoops’ noses in front at the break.
The second half was a similar story, with both sides denied by the woodwork on one occasion while James Tonkin pulled off a superb save near the end to deny Bearsted an equaliser.
Then, in the dying seconds, Deal were awarded a penalty after Wilson was brought down in the box, and although Adams’s spot kick was saved by the Bears’ keeper it did nothing to dilute the Hoops’ satisfaction as they “leapfrogged” the home side into seventh position in the table – 10 places above where they were at the same stage last season.
Deal: Tonkin, Paxman, Bigginton, Hill, Hark, Reeves, Sahadow, Adams, C Miller, Coyne, Wilson. Subs: Alexander, Chapman, Zureiqi.