The Hoops play their first ever fixture with Punjab United on Saturday when the clubs meet in a SCEL Premier Division game at United’s Elite Venue ground in Gravesend.
Punjab United were formed in 2003 and, although their name may suggest otherwise, the club state in their constitution that they are “…open to anyone regardless of age, race, religion, sexual orientation or ability.”
United joined the Kent County League Premier Division for the 2016-17 season and ended up winning both the league title and also the Kent Intermediate Challenge Cup. That earned them promotion to the SCEL First Division last season, and once again they won the title to clinch promotion to the Premier Division.
But United have so far found life somewhat tougher in the top division and are currently in 16th place with 10 points from 13 matches. Hoops manager Derek Hares said: “We don’t know too much about them. They started the season well but have faltered a bit in the last few weeks.”
The same could be said about the Hoops, who are without a win in four matches, but Hares believes that last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with leaders Beckenham, after being 2-0 down at half-time, will signal an upturn in Deal’s fortunes. He said: “Although it was a draw in the end it felt like a win. We needed that after a bad run and hopefully we can now get back on track.”
Deal will be without Kane Smith who is suspended while Luke Bigginton is doubtful because of a knee problem, but Andy Miller is back in the squad.