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The Hoops’ week of late penalty drama continued at K Sports on Saturday.
After their two penalty shootout cup successes Deal added a valuable away point thanks to Steve O’Brien’s 83rd-minute spot kick against a K Sports side significantly stronger than the team that had lost 4-1 at the Charles Ground back in mid-November.
The latest penalty came when, with the home side leading 2-1, K Sports substitute Fjord Rogers used his hand to cut out a Deal cross and O’Brien calmly tucked away the resulting spot kick, and then in injury-time Deal almost snatched all three points when Jack Penny volleyed wide from close range after Luke Bigginton’s initial effort had come back off the crossbar.
But Hoops manager Derek Hares accepted that defeat would have been harsh on the Paperboys, saying: “This is not an easy place to come to because K Sports are a physically competitive side, and 2-2 was probably a fair result over the 90 minutes.”
Deal made a positive start and within 10 minutes were in front, midfielder Ben Chapman scoring his fourth goal in three games with a stooping header from Charlie Walsh’s cross.
But 10 minutes later James Alderman brought K Sports level when he curled a shot over ‘keeper James Tonkin, and soon afterwards the Hoops suffered another blow when centre-half Kane Smith, who had been typically commanding early on, had to be replaced by Bigginton because of a knee injury.
The Paperboys, who certainly lacked nothing in terms of physical commitment, then gradually took control and although genuine chances were in short supply for both sides either side of half-time it was K Sports who eventually broke the deadlock just before the hour mark when Robbie Dolan headed home Jordan Ababio’s probing cross.
Hares now rung the changes, bringing on Penny and Joe Reeves for Lee Scott and Liam Hark, and Deal slowly regained their early dominance against tiring opponents who had also been involved in a tough game at Hollands & Blair in midweek. O’Brien then made sure Deal gained some reward with another calmly-taken penalty, taking the Hoops’ tally to 11 successful spot kicks in eight days which must be some sort of record in itself!
Deal: Tonkin, Hark (Reeves), O’Brien, Maughan, Smith (Bigginton), Munday, Paxman, Scott (Penny), Coyne, Walsh, Chapman.