Deal made their unexpected “home” advantage count as they booked their place in the next round of the FA Vase on Saturday.
The first round qualifying tie should have been played at Redhill’s Kiln Brow ground but had to be switched because the Surrey club’s pitch hasn’t yet recovered from close season drainage repair work.
And goals in each half from Joe Reeves and Luke Bigginton earned the Hoops their third victory at the Charles Ground in the space of seven days, but manager Derek Hares admitted afterwards: “To be honest, it was a bit of a scrappy game and neither side played a lot of good football.
“I think we deserved to win because they didn’t really trouble us a lot and I couldn’t fault the lads’ work-rate but it was one of those games where, at the final whistle, you are just happy to take the win and move on.”
Right from the early stages the play was often ragged, although what dangerous moments there were in the opening half hour were all created by the Hoops. Yet, with 35 minutes gone, it was Redhill who should have taken the lead when a flick-on from a goal kick sent Kery Kedze clear, but the striker shot tamely straight at keeper Chris Waymark.
And, following that let-off, Deal were then “gifted” the opening goal two minutes before the break. Connor Coyne’s flick-on ought to have presented no problems for the Lobsters’ defence, but instead centre-half-Lee Strip’s attempted headed back pass to Jindrich Vokaty flew over the onrushing Redhill keeper’s head, leaving Reeves to sidefoot the ball into the unguarded net.
The Hoops could not have wished for a bigger boost for the second half, but any hopes they had of cruising into the next round were ruined by a similar defensive error just five minutes after the restart. Joe Anderson scuffed his attempted back pass straight to Tony Halsey and the striker drew Redhill level in clinical fashion.
And although dangerous Redhill attacking moments still remained a rarity, you began to wonder if it was going to turn into “one of those days” for the Hoops after they missed a 71st-minute penalty. Referee Ben Bowles spotted a Redhill handball during a goalmouth scramble but Andy Miller’s spot kick was saved low down to his left by Vokaty.
However, within two minutes Miller had made amends, beating one defender before firing in a cross-cum-shot which Bigginton turned in almost on the goaline.
And the Hoops then held on to their slender lead in fairly comfortable fashion to earn a trip in the next round to Chislehurst side Glebe, who secured a surprise 1-0 win in their tie at Cray Valley PM on Friday night.
Deal: Waymark, Paxman, Bagley (A Coyne 59), Bigginton, O’Brien, Hill, Anderson, Reeves (Hark 59), C Coyne (Adams 80), Walsh, Miller.
Footnote: The game was halted for five minutes early in the second half after one of the linesmen, Mike O’Bree, was unable to carry on because of a calf injury. Fortunately Deal official Nick Dunn, who this season has been promoted to the National League list of linesmen, was among the spectators and volunteered to take over.