|Charles Sports Ground|
|15/09/2020||7:45 pm||Southern Counties East Football League||First Team 2020/21 Season Fixtures|
|Club||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals||Outcome|
|Deal Town First||1||0||1||Loss|
By Kevin Redsull
Tuesday night’s game at the Charles Ground was one of those matches where the final outcome was heavily influenced by a single “red card” incident.
With 34 minutes gone and the score 1-1, Hoops’ left-back Jack Penny was shown a straight red card by referee Jak Hill after committing a reckless challenge on Sheppey winger Danny Leonard near the halfway line. The consequence was that having to play with 10 men for nearly an hour against this strong Sheppey side predictably proved too greater a task for Derek Hares’ side, with the visitors scoring twice in the dying stages against a tired Deal team to clinch the points.
As Hares admitted afterwards: “If we had played with 10 men for the last 20 minutes or so we might have got away with it, but playing with 10 for an hour was asking too much.
“It was a bit of indiscipline by Jack and, if I’m being honest, I thought it was a red card and it changed the game really because it was always going to be ‘damage limitation’ after that. It’s disappointing because I thought we had started the game really well and we also hung in there well in the second half against a side who are going to be in the top three this season.”
Like Deal, Sheppey had enjoyed a 4-1 FA Cup win at the weekend but they looked distinctly rattled by another strong start to the game from the Hoops which was rewarded with a 7th-minute strike by Luke Eldridge after he had set up by fellow new signing Brad Baker.
Soon after Baker went close himself as Troy Howard and Jack Paxman caused Sheppey early problems down the flanks, but the Ites have shown their intentions this season by bringing in seasoned campaigners such as Jack Midson and Billy Bennett and it was Midson, who played in the Football League for Oxford Utd, Southend and AFC Wimbledon, who drew Sheppey level with a clever 22nd-minute volley from Harrison Carnegie’s cross.
The prospects, however, still looked good for Deal who were playing with bags of verve and determination but then came Penny’s moment of indiscipline and with it the change in scenario. Hares and assistant-manager Steve King had to re-arrange their line-up, with Liam Hark moving from right to left-back, Paxman taking over from Hark, and Ben Chapman and Billy Munday being left outnumbered in midfield.
But although Bennett’s low cross-shot almost put Sheppey in front just before half-time, Deal’s 10 men continued to battle away valiantly for much of the second half before they were finally undone twice in the final 14 minutes. First, Junior Aikhionbare converted a near-post cross from Warren Mfula, and then three minutes later Mfula finished off a sharp Sheppey passing move.
Hares added: “You can see that we are not a million miles away and, as Steve (King) has just said to me, if we play like that against 75 per cent of the teams in this league we’ll win.”
Deal: Tonkin, Hark (Coyne 78), Penny, Foster, Smith, Chapman, Munday, Baker (Greenfield), Paxman, Howard, Eldridge (Alexander 62).