James Tonkin produced his third penalty save in the space of five days to earn the Hoops their second away league win of the season.
After saving two late spot kicks against Sheppey in midweek Tonkin completed his “hat-trick” with a 70th-minute stop in Saturday’s game to prevent the Deres from taking a 2-1 lead, and then five minutes later Connor Coyne snatched the Hoops winner.
Derek Hares’ side had been on top in the first half and, after Sam Wilson and Ben Cardwell both went close early on, Deal deservedly took the lead with 27 minutes gone. Nick Treadwell saw his close-range header tipped over the bar by the Deres’ keeper but from the resulting corner Luke Bigginton fired the ball home from the edge of the box.
The Hoops then comfortably held on to their one-goal lead until half-time but the second half soon turned into a different story. The Deres began to show why they had scored 20 times in their previous five matches and, after Tonkin had pulled off one superb double save, the home side equalised on the hour mark through a shot in off the woodwork from Chan Quan.
Hares then made a double substitution, bringing on Billy Munday and Connor Coyne for Cardwell and Treadwell, but it was the Deres who looked set to claim the lead when they were awarded a penalty late a few minutes later – but man-of-the-match Tonkin had other ideas.
Again Hares turned to his subs’ bench, bringing on Troy Howard for Macauley Murray, and with 15 minutes left all three Hoops substitutes combined to produce the winner. Howard set up Munday for a cross which Coyne volleyed home for his fourth goal of the season and which enabled Deal to “leapfrog” the Deres in the table.
Hares said: “It was a game of two halves really. We played well in the first half and deserved our 1-0 lead but they came back at us in the second half and once again we were grateful to James, who made some great saves, including stopping another penalty, before Connor won it with a fine volley.”
Deal: Tonkin, Reeves, Bigginton, Hark, Smith, Penny, Treadwell (Munday 65), Murray (Howard 72), Chapman, Cardwell (Coyne 65), Wilson.
Picture: James Tonkin