Sevenoaks showed why they are likely to be genuine title contenders in the Southern Counties East League this season as they defeated the Hoops in Saturday’s Kent Reliance Senior Trophy preliminary round tie.
Against a Deal side missing several players through injury and unavailability Sevenoaks turned on the style in the first 45 minutes and were certainly worth their 3-0 half-time lead.
But Hoops’ manager Derek Hares will draw encouragement from the way his team refused to roll over in the second half as they look ahead to two more home games in the coming week against Chatham in the league on Tuesday and then CB Hounslow United in the FA Vase next Saturday.
The Saturday just gone however belonged to a Sevenoaks side who looked confident and composed from the start but who were also helped by a slightly fortunate 12th-minute opening goal. When Rory Hill curled in a free-kick from out near Deal’s right touchline the ball somehow evaded everybody in the packed penalty area and ended up in the far corner of the Hoops’ net.
But there was nothing flukey about Sevenoaks’ second goal seven minutes later which was again scored by Hill, who this time deliberately fired a 20-yard free-kick high into the net past James Tonkin.
Missing the experience and steel of Lee Scott and Steve Butcher in midfield and the pace of Sam Wilson upfront, the Hoops failed to trouble Craig Holloway in the ‘Oaks goal in the opening exchanges and things looked bleak for Deal when Tom Ripley headed in a far post corner just before the half hour mark.
But the Hoops managed to reach half-time without suffering further damage and they reappeared for the second half with a reshaped line-up which gradually led to better things as the half wore on, aided to some extent by Sevenoaks “taking their foot off the gas” a little.
And Deal’s minor reward for making a game of it in the second half came seven minutes from time when Connor Coyne unleashed a fierce drive past Holloway from Dan Adams’ pass.
It wasn’t enough to change the outcome of the tie but it at least made Deal’s early exit from a competition in which they reached the semi-finals last season a little less painful.
Deal: Tonkin, Paxman, Alexander, K Smith, Hark, Walsh, Adams, A Miller (C Miller 46), Coyne, Zureiqi (D Smith 55), Philpott.
Sevenoaks: Holloway, Edwards, Miles, Ince, Ripley, Holder, Carnegie, Bennett (Fernandez 71), Irvine (Youngs 59), Walker, Hill.