The Hoops kept their first away league “clean sheet” of the season at Punjab United on Saturday.
And, having conceded 12 goals in their previous four matches, that achievement was the most satisfying aspect for the Deal management team from what was the Hoops’ first ever competitive fixture with the Gravesend club.
Manager Derek Hares said: “It was a scrappy game in which both defences were on top. I wouldn’t say we were at our best but ‘Tonks’ only had one real save to make and it’s always nice to keep a clean sheet, especially away from home.”
For the statistically-minded, the 0-0 scoreline was notable for two reasons: it was Deal’s first goalless away draw for almost exactly three years, and also the first “blank” scoreline in 120 SCEL Premier Division matches so far this season.
All that said, the game itself threw up few moments of genuine goalmouth incident, especially in the first half when the Hoops’ cause wasn’t helped by the early loss of Kane Smith (hamstring) and then Steve O’Brien, who had to go off at half-time because he was feeling unwell.
Deal also lost Alfie Foster through injury just before the hour mark but they offered more of an attacking threat in the second half and Jake Munday and Sam Wilson both went close.
However, it was Punjab who went closest to snatching the only goal five minutes from time but they were denied initially by a superb save from James Tonkin and then by a great block from the rebound by Josh Maughan.
So the Hoops clung on for their second successive draw and head coach Steve King “tweeted” afterwards: “Good clean sheet for the boys away from home today. Would have liked to have created more but having to make three enforced subs due to injury never helps.”
Deal: Tonkin, Scott, Smith (Hark 16), Maughan, O’Brien (C Miller HT), Munday, Foster (Chapman 58), Cardwell, Reeves, Wilson, Coyne.