The Hoops suffered their second home league defeat in a row as Bearsted completed the “double” over Derek Hares’ side.
Two goals from Jon Rogers ensured that the Bears, who had defeated Deal 4-2 at home in October, again took all three points and a disappointed Hares admitted afterwards: “I thought we were flat today and only really came alive in the last 20 minutes. Then, after equalising, we shot ourselves in the foot by allowing them to go straight back up the other end and score.”
With the boggy and uneven surface making crisp passing football difficult neither side created much in the way of genuine opportunities in the opening half hour. Deal’s best moments were provided by Harris Rodgers’ left-wing dashes but without any end product and Bearsted, unbeaten in their previous four matches, then grabbed a 36th-minute lead. Peter Williams got round the back of the Hoops defence before finding Rogers and although James Tonkin managed to get a hand to his volley, it wasn’t enough to keep the ball out of the net.
The Hoops then made a sluggish start to the second half, with two sloppy back passes almost gifting Bearsted a second goal, and so it was no surprise when Hares’ made a double substitution just before the hour mark. New signing Dave Pilcher came on for his Hoops debut along with Connor Coyne and the changes gradually had the desired effect. Coyne went close with a far post header from Pilcher’s cross before providing Deal’s 76th-minute equaliser following a mistake, ironically, by Rogers.
But within a minute the Bears’ midfielder, allowed too much time and space, made up for his error by curling a sweet strike past Tonkin and Deal then sensed it wasn’t going to be their day after being unluckily denied a second equaliser 10 minutes from time.
Sam Wilson’s volley looked to have crossed the line before Bears’ ‘keeper Scott Andrews dived on the ball but the officials waved play on and Hares claimed afterwards: “Everybody I have spoken to said it was over the line so we were a bit unfortunate there, but that’s the way it goes and now we’ve got to pick ourselves up again for next Saturday’s game at Canterbury.”
Deal: Tonkin, Chapman, Hark, Maughan, Foster, Scott, B Munday (C Miller 76), A Miller, Wilson, Rodgers (Coyne 57), Reeves (Pilcher 57).