The Hoops produced a performance full of spirit and steel at the Charles Ground on Tuesday night as they booked their place in the next round of the Emirates FA Cup.
And they did so despite having to play the last 30 minutes of this extra preliminary round replay with a stand-in goalkeeper in the shape of striker Ryan Philpott after James Tonkin received a straight red card for bringing down Corinthian’s Marcus Heddon outside the Deal area.
The Hoops were leading 3-1 at that stage and, as in Saturday’s first game when Corinthian fought back from 2-0 down to earn a replay, the Longfield visitors sensed their chance to stage another comeback. But in fact Philpott, who had scored Deal’s opening two goals, hardly had a serious save to make in the closing stages as the Hoops continued to work fiercely to protect their advantage.
And then, in the dying seconds, substitute Sam Wilson provided the icing on the cake by scoring his first goal for the club to ensure a home tie with Glebe a week on Saturday.
Yet an eventful 90 minutes had got off to a slow and edgy start with neither side threatening to make a breakthrough in the opening half hour, but then the Hoops suddenly sprang into attacking life.
With 31 minutes gone Philpott kept his cool to round the Corinthian keeper before firing Deal ahead, and then three minutes later the Hoops scored what first team coach Steve King described afterwards as “the best team goal we have scored since I have been at the club”. Joe Reeves started it off by winning the ball in midfield before finding Steve Butcher, whose precise return pass provided “Reevo” with the space to curl in an inviting cross which Philpott thumped home with his head.
Not surprisingly, that superbly-worked goal lifted Deal and Philpott soon went close to completing his hat-trick before the Hoops struck for a third time just ahead of half-time. Charlie Walsh, a strong contender for man-of-the-match on a night where several Deal players were in with a “shout” for the award, delivered a long throw which set up a scramble in the Corinthian goalmouth, and it was finally ended by “new boy” Butcher heading home.
But Deal didn’t need reminding that they had squandered a two-goal lead on Saturday, and Corinthian’s hopes of staging a similar comeback this time were raised just four minutes after the break when Walsh blocked a shot with his arm in the box and Polish referee Piotr Zachwieja pointed straight to the spot.
Michael Hurcomb duly converted the penalty and 13 minutes later Corinthian’s spirits were lifted even further when the referee sent Tonkin off after he advanced outside his area before stopping Heddon with a late “last man” challenge.
With no substitute goalie on the Hoops’ bench, Philpott volunteered to take over between the posts but was then given little opportunity to display his goalkeeping skills as the Deal players gritted their teeth to ensure a deserved victory capped off by Wilson’s late strike.
Deal: Tonkin, Butcher, Hark, K Smith, Scott, Miller, Bigginton (Brayne 89), Walsh, Reeves (Wilson 85), Philpott, Alexander (O’Brien 53).