The Hoops were unable to check Whitstable’s impressive end-of-season surge as they were beaten for the second time in three weeks at The Belmont on Saturday.
After losing 1-0 in the League Challenge Cup quarter-finals last month, this time Deal conceded three goals without reply as the home team extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 17 matches.
Derek Hares’ side were always trying to play “catch up” on the heavy pitch after falling behind to a 10th-minute penalty and, against a side boasting the league’s joint best defensive record, that was always going to be a difficult task.
Whitstable’s early breakthrough came when full-back John Walker was brought down in the area by Hoops’ keeper James Tonkin, who received a yellow card, and Shaun Welford coolly tucked away the spot kick.
Deal’s response for the rest of the half was spirited enough, especially down their right flank through the pacy dribbles of Jack Paxman and Joe Reeves, but the Hoops were unable to create any clear cut openings in the Whitstable box against the tall and powerful home backline.
And, with Deal missing Kane Smith’s aerial prowess at the back , it meant they were always vulnerable when Whitstable sent their big men forward for set-pieces and both of their second half goals stemmed from James Morrish corners.
Centre-half Rob Gillman bundled home the first on 53 minutes and then midfielder Stuart Webb made it 3-0 midway through the half to allow Whitstable to “coast” through the closing stages ahead of next Sunday’s Kent Senior Trophy final against Sheppey.
Deal’s nearest moment to a goal also came from a corner when Sam Wilson saw his close range header saved by Dan Eason, but this was a day when Whitstable showed why they are still in with a chance of winning three trophies this season.
Hoops’ assistant manager Steve King, who was sent from the Deal dugout late in the game after his frustration with the officials boiled over, “tweeted” afterwards: “Tough day at the office, credit to Whitstable who are strong in all areas!”
Deal: Tonkin, Paxman, Alexander, Hill, Scott, Butcher, Foster (Coyne 61), Reeves, Wilson (Sahadow 73), Miller, Chapman.