The Hoops ended 2019 on a high note with a three-goal victory which lifted them to eighth place in the table, their highest position of the season so far.
But, as manager Derek Hares acknowledged afterwards, it was a win achieved in somewhat strange circumstances with opponents Canterbury fielding a young, new-look team which was almost entirely different from the line-up that had drawn 0-0 at the Charles Ground back in late August.
That followed the “walk out” a week earlier of former manager Clive Cook and most of the first-team squad after the City committee had decided to cut the “playing” budget for the rest of the season, and so new manager Chris Woollcott was left with only a few days to pull together a side for Saturday’s game.
As Hares said: “It was difficult to know what to expect from Canterbury and so, in the circumstances, I thought it was a good performance by the boys with three goals and a clean sheet.”
However the victory did come at a price for the Hoops, with Ben Cardwell forced to go off after only 13 minutes with a recurrence of his hamstring problem and Alfie Foster shown a harsh-looking straight red card in the second half for a “last man” challenge. Fortunately for the Hoops, they were already leading 3-0 when Foster departed, and Canterbury were also reduced to 10 men in the closing stages through injury having already used their three substitutes.
So Deal were able to “coast” through to their biggest away win of the campaign having done most of the spadework in the first half. Billy Munday, who is developing a handy habit of scoring goals from midfield, fired them in front with 20 minutes gone after City failed a Jack Penny corner, and then Connor Coyne converted a Liam Hark cross to make it 2-0 seven minutes before the break.
At the other end ‘keeper James Tonkin was only forced into serious action on a couple of occasions as the young City side, most of whom had only met each other for the first time a couple of hours before kick-off, continued to battle away gamely in the second half after substitute Harry Alexander virtually sealed the Hoops victory with their third goal soon after the break.
Deal: Tonkin, Hark, Foster, Scott, Penny, Munday, Murray, Chapman, Cardwell (Alexander), Walsh, (Maughan), Coyne (Treadwell).