The Hoops staged a terrific fightback on Wednesday to book their place in the second round of the FA Vase.
Trailing 3-1 early in the second half, Derek Hares’ side stunned Westside by scoring three times in the space of 10 minutes to set up a home tie with Hertfordshire club Oxhey Jets in the next round.
Yet the chances of that happening had seemed decidedly slim on a night when Deal had to contend with pre-match problems both on and off the pitch. Holds-ups on the M20 meant that the team didn’t arrive at Westside’s Chalky Lane ground, which they share with Chessington & Hook FC, until 20 minutes before the kick-off, and then in their brief warm-up the Hoops lost Kane Smith after he tweaked a hamstring and so Josh Maughan stepped in off the subs’ bench.
Things then got worse for Deal when the Combined Counties League side went in front through Tevon Webster after 12 minutes in what was their first attack, but the Hoops always looked capable of breaking through the Westside defence and with 32 minutes gone they equalised when Maughan fired home from the edge of the box following a corner.
Deal then looked set to go in at half-time on level terms only for Westside to regain the lead through Nathan Hunter-Moses just before the break after some slack Hoops’ defending from a free-kick.
And the situation worsened for Deal 10 minutes after the restart when they were caught out by a quick break which ended with Zach Johnson-Read making it 3-1.
Hares responded by making a double substitution, bringing on Troy Howard for Alfie Foster and Jack Penny for Liam Hark, and it was Howard’s pace which helped to change the game. He set up Deal’s second goal by finding Ben Chapman, who was then fouled in the area and Steve O’Brien converted the 70th-minute spot kick.
And five minutes later it was O’Brien again who brought the Hoops level, this time with a driven corner which flew straight into the Westside net.
With Howard continuing to cause the home defence problems, it was Deal who now looked the more likely winners and with 10 minutes left the young winger fired in another cross which flew into the net off Connor Coyne’s shoulder.
The stunned home side tried to respond in the closing stages but the Hoops held firm to pull off a tremendous victory, with head coach Steve King “tweeting” afterwards: “Great character from the boys tonight when not much went right against tough opposition. The boys never gave in and I’m proud of them.”
Deal: Tonkin, Hark (Penny 58), Maughan, Bigginton, O’Brien, Munday, Foster (Howard 58), Chapman, Reeves, Coyne (Treadwell 81), Wilson.