Deal swept higher-league Sittingbourne aside with a superb all-round team performance at the Charles Ground today to book their place in the next round of the FA Cup.
From the moment Macauley Murray gave the Hoops a “flying start” from the penalty spot Derek Hares’ side were dominant against their Isthmian League South East Division opponents, whose backline in particular had an afternoon they will want to forget.
A delighted Hares said: “I know it was Sittingbourne’s first (competitive) game and they did look rusty, and getting that early penalty obviously helped us. But to be honest I thought we were the better team from start to finish and every one of our lads had a good game.”
The Brickies had won all of their four previous meetings with Deal in the FA Cup but they made the worst possible start in this latest preliminary round encounter when, with just 90 seconds gone, their captain Cory Walters-Wright shoved Ben Cardwell over in the box and Murray despatched the resulting spot kick.
The Hoops’ midfielder was then called into important action at the other end with a 16th-minute goalline clearance following a Brickies’ corner. But that was a rare moment of early danger for Deal as their pacy front three of Cardwell, Jack Paxman and Troy Howard continued to cause the Sittingbourne defence problems, and with 21 minutes gone Deal doubled their lead when Cardwell and Howard combined to set up Ben Chapman who rifled home a low cross-shot.
A stunned Sittingbourne then slowly started to enjoy some possession, with experienced ex-Football League midfielder Andy Drury leading the way, and it was Drury who went closest for the Brickies in the first half when his sweetly-struck 41st-minute half-volley hit the Hoops’ woodwork.
But almost immediately Deal broke quickly again and this time Howard found Paxman racing into the box and the diminutive little winger made no mistake to round off a terrific first 45 minutes for the home side.
Knowing that they needed to produce a quick response Sittingbourne did look more menacing in the opening 10 minutes or so of the second half, and now it was the turn of Hoops ‘keeper James Tonkin and his defence to play their part and they duly stood firm before Deal “killed the tie off” with a fourth goal after 58 minutes.
Murray delivered a long free-kick to the far post where Hoops’ skipper Kane Smith, playing with a thick bandage around his forehead after being injured against K Sports on Monday, was still able to head down and home past Brickies’ keeper Jordan John-Perrin.
Then, for much of the remaining 30 minutes, Deal were content to sit back and protect their handsome lead, and although Sittingbourne did pull one goal back in the dying minutes through Kane Rowland, this was clearly the Hoops’ day and they can now look forward to being involved in the first round qualifying on September 22.
Deal: Tonkin, Hark, Foster, Smith (Coyne 61), Penny, Munday, Chapman, Murray (Greenfield 65) , Paxman, Cardwell (Baker 45), Howard.
Match Report written by Kevin Redsull from East Kent Sport.
Main Photo Credit: Tony Flashman