James Tonkin was the Hoops’ hero as they battled their way through to the last 16 of the FA Vase after extra-time and a penalty shootout in Saturday’s replay in Berkshire.
The young ‘keeper not only saved three spot kicks in the shootout, during which Binfield missed the target with two other efforts as well, but Tonkin also fired home Deal’s winning penalty to set up a fifth-round tie against Consett in County Durham next month.
Delighted Hoops manager Derek Hares said: “This really was a special day for the club. The lads were amazing and we had such great support as well.”
But the replay started badly for Deal, with Binfield taking the lead after just seven minutes through Asa Povey.
The Hoops, hoping to make the fifth round for the first time since they won the Vase 20 years ago, responded well to that early setback and Billy Munday struck the Moles’ woodwork while Jack Paxman went close after charging down an attempted clearance.
And Deal finally drew level eight minutes before half-time when Connor Coyne, despite lying on the floor, managed to set up a shooting opportunity for Ben Chapman which the midfielder gratefully accepted.
So the sides went into the break still level pegging, but within two minutes of the restart Binfield regained the lead when George Short headed home after some poor Hoops’ defensive work.
Deal again had to respond and they did so effectively, equalising through Chapman for the second time on 68 minutes after Charlie Walsh’s initial effort had been blocked on the line.
That was enough to take the tie into extra-time, where it was the Hoops who went in front for the first time early in the second period when Jack Paxman scored his first goal since rejoining the club following good work by substitute Joe Reeves.
Their Hellenic League opponents however lacked nothing in spirit or determination, as they had demonstrated in the first meeting at the Charles Ground, and within three minutes Binfield were back on level terms when Liam Gavin fired home in a goalmouth scramble.
That was the end of the scoring and what followed was one of the most dramatic penalty shootouts in the Hoops’ history, during which both sides missed kicks. And so it came down to the two ‘keepers efforts and Tonkin made no mistake with the 22nd penalty of the shootout to send Deal through and set off some wild celebrations amongst the squad and their travelling band of supporters.
Deal: Tonkin, Hark, Maughan, Smith, Penny (O’Brien 50), Murray (Bigginton, e-t), Munday, Chapman, Paxman, Coyne (Reeves, e-t), Walsh (Alexander, e-t).