Hoops manager Derek Hares had no complaints after watching Crowborough complete an early-season league “double” over Deal on Saturday.
“Crowborough are a strong side and deserved to win, although I think the 3-0 scoreline flattered them,” Hares said. “The problem we’ve got at the moment is all our injuries which is really hurting us.”
With people like Harry Alexander having to play out of position to plug the gaps, Deal were eventually worn down by a Crowborough side who again look likely to be challenging for the title after finishing runners-up last season.
That said, there wasn’t much to choose between the teams in a first half which produced few clear cut-chances. But, as half-time approached, the Hoops found themselves under increasing pressure and Crowborough finally broke through from a corner a minute before the break. Although Steve Butcher headed Zac Attwood’s initial effort off the line Deal were unable to clear the danger and the ball was eventually volleyed home by Crows’ captain Henry Muggeridge.
The Hoops responded well straight after the restart and Sam Wilson three times went close to adding to his 11-goal tally for the season in the opening 10 minutes.
But, having survived that early threat, Crowborough gradually imposed their authority and were rewarded with a second goal from another corner on 71 minutes. Again Deal were unable to clear their lines and this time it was midfielder Jack Turner who lashed the loose ball home.
With the Hoops now forced to throw men forward, Crowborough took advantage to add a third goal in injury time through substitute Lewis Unwin.
Hares was left able to draw some consolation from an encouraging debut performance by Alfie Foster, who had signed from Chatham in midweek, but the Hoops manager also admitted: “We have got to defend better at set pieces because that was the only time they really hurt us today.”
Deal: Tonkin, Paxman, D Smith (Brisley 76), Butcher, K Smith, Hark, Foster (Adams 69), Miller, Coyne, Wilson, Alexander.