The Hoops did it again on Tuesday night. For the third time in four games they defeated a team who were leading the Southern Counties East League table, with previously unbeaten Whitstable their latest victims.
Two-goal Sam Wilson, taking his tally for the season to eight in eight matches, was again Deal’s match-winner but this was another excellent Hoops’ all-round team performance, especially coming in the wake of Saturday’s deflating home defeat by Lordswood.
With four wins out of four beforehand, Whitstable came to the Charles Ground confident of repeating their victory in the corresponding fixture last season but instead they were rocked back on their heels by the Hoops’ fifth-minute opening goal. Charlie Walsh and Steve Butcher combined to set up Wilson for a run on goal, and the striker manoeuvred the ball onto his favourite left-foot before firing low into the far corner.
It was just the start Deal needed t help erase the memory of Saturday’s setback and they went on to cause Whitstable, who had only conceded three league goals previously, plenty of problems in the first half, particularly down the right flank through the pace of Walsh and Jack Paxman.
Wilson added his second goal from close range after Whitstable keeper Dan Eason had parried a 25th-minute Andy Miller free-kick into his path, and the Oystermen were relieved to reach half-time with only a two-goal deficit.
But within two minutes of the restart they were back in the game as the Hoops repeated another of this season’s less welcome habits of conceding an early second-half goal. Harry Brown curled in a corner to the far post where Whitstable skipper Craig Cloke headed home.
And that set the scene for a tense second half during which Deal were unable to regain their first half control but instead fought with real determination to cling on to their one-goal advantage.
The Oystermen did create more chances but their highly-experienced attacking duo of Shaun Welford and Ricky Freeman for once enjoyed a “barren” 90 minutes in front of goal. Both men were denied by some good work from Deal keeper James Tonkin while Welford did hit the Hoops crossbar, but Eason was also kept on his toes at the other end by long-range efforts from Walsh and Miller, and at the final whistle few could begrudge Deal a deserved three points.
Deal Tonkin, Paxman, Alexander (Hill 90+3), Hark, Smith, Scott, Bigginton, Butcher, Walsh, Wilson (Reeves 84), Miller (Coyne 80).
Whitstable: Eason, West, Brown, Brown, Cloke, Bryant (Smith 66), Treadwell, Morrish (Sprosen 70), Freeman, Welford, Harrold (Williams 27.