A second win in the space of three days on Monday over another of the league’s early pacesetters completed a memorable Bank Holiday weekend for the Hoops.
As against Beckenham on Saturday, Deal knocked opponents Canterbury off the top of the SCEL table with a gritty and skilful display which produced this after-match response from manager Derek Hares: “That was as good a 90-minute performance as we have produced for a long time and the response we’ve had from the boys since the FA Cup defeat at Glebe has been excellent.”
Canterbury had won three out of three before Monday’s “home” game against their new Charles Ground landlords, which saw the Hoops using the “away” changing room for the first time in the club’s history, but it didn’t seem to bother them as they took the game to City right from the start.
And, with just four minutes gone, they were rewarded with an early contender for “goal of the season” from Connor Coyne who spotted City keeper Jack Delo off his line and, from fully 40 yards out, lob-volleyed the ball home from a Jack Paxman header.
Paxman has re-signed for the club on a dual registration from Herne Bay and quickly reminded Hoops’ supporters of what he can add to the team with his pace and verve down the right flank as Deal dominated the opening half hour.
But Canterbury finally began to settle as the interval approached and Gary Clarke’s left-foot volley was superbly tipped onto the woodwork and away by James Tonkin before Dave Pilcher scuffed a half-volley chance wide right on half-time.
So the Hoops came out for the second period with their noses still in front and Coyne fired a low shot straight at Delo as they again started strongly, only to suffer a brief setback with the award of a contentious 72nd-minute penalty. Paxman caught Sam Conlon with a flailing arm as he won a far-post challenge and referee Joe McKay pointed to the spot, from where Pilcher put Canterbury level.
It could have knocked some of the stuffing out of Deal, but instead within two minutes they were back in front as Coyne set up Sam Wilson for a carefully placed shot into the far corner.
Again City tried to respond and Joe Kennett headed against the bar following another of Connor Sander’s long throw-ins.
But this was Deal’s day and Wilson wrapped things up in the 81st minute with his fifth goal in six games after a neat build-up between Harry Alexander and Andy Miller who, with his graft and creativity in central midfield, was one of the Hoops’ stand-out performers in an excellent team performance.
Deal: Tonkin, Paxman, O’Brien, K Smith, Hark, Scott, Reeves (Hill 85), Butcher, Coyne (Alexander 78), Wilson, Miller.