Lee Scott marked his 200th appearance for the Deal Town in style by grabbing their late winner in their Premier Division home game against Tower Hamlets.
The midfielder, sidelined by a shoulder injury since early September, came on as a 74th-minute substitute and nine minutes later volleyed home Deal’s second goal following a long throw-in by Jack Paxman.
That ended some spirited resistance from league newcomers Tower Hamlets who, despite having lost nine of their opening 10 matches, made Derek Hares’ men work hard for all three points.
The East London side had to recover from falling behind after just four minutes when Sam Wilson, himself making only his second appearance of the season because of injury, swept the ball home after Hamlets ‘keeper Kevin Namiel had palmed out a Brad Baker cross into the striker’s path.
With Hamlets having already conceded 37 goals this campaign that early breakthrough could have set the scene for a comfortable Hoops victory but it didn’t turn out that way. Deal did dictate the early stages and a header from Alfie Foster, who was making his 100th appearance for the club, forced a flying save out of Namiel. But then, with 26 minutes gone, Hamlets suddenly got back on level terms from the penalty spot. Liam Hark barged Denilson Carvalho over in the corner of the box and Carvalho converted spot kick.
It was just the slice of encouragement that Hamlets needed and it set up an evenly-fought, fast-paced contest for the remaining 60 minutes or so in which both sides enjoyed plenty of possession but without being able to create more than a handful of decent chances.
One area, however, in which the Hoops regularly threatened was when Paxman, my man-of-the-match, had the opportunity to launch one of his long throws into the Hamlets’ box, and so it was fitting that Deal’s winner should come via that avenue. Again Hamlets were unable to deal with the throw effectively and, when the ball eventually fell to Scott, he thumped it home low through a mass of bodies.
Hoops’ assistant-manager Steve King “tweeted” afterwards: “ Proud of the boys today. Kept going when we weren’t at our best to get an important three points. Well done to Alfie Foster for his 100 games and to Lee Scott for 200 – and the winner!”