Deal Town 2-2 Egham Town - We'll go there as underdogs but I think we'll play better than what we did today, says Deal Town boss Steve King

Saturday 06th August 2022
Deal Town 2 – 2 Egham Town
Location The Charles Sports Ground, St Leonards Road, Deal, Kent CT14 9AU
Kickoff 06/08/2022 15:00

The Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Saturday 6 August 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from The Charles Sports Ground

DEAL TOWN manager Steve King says his side will play better in Tuesday night’s replay after throwing away a two-goal lead in this open FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie against Egham Town.

Deal Town kicked off their Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division campaign with a 3-1 home win over Glebe as the fourth-placed finishers locked horns with the third-placed finishers last weekend.

This was Egham Town’s first competitive fixture of the season.  The Sarnies finished in third-place in the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division North last season, the same level as the hosts in the ninth-tier of English football.

Deal Town opened the scoring after only 11 SECONDS, courtesy of Ben Chapman’s clinical finish (his second goal in two games) before left-back Jack Penny scored from a free-kick to give the hosts a two-goal lead, which was against the run of play at the time.

However, Jordan Berry’s side showed great character to fight their way back into the game, scoring two set-piece goals scored from two super subs inside the final 27 minutes of an open game of football.

Eric Lopes scored a free-kick from the very edge of the penalty area and Jabir Laraba forced a deserved replay at Runnymede Stadium on Tuesday night when Jabir Laraba tucked home a penalty with eight minutes remaining.

“Obviously disappointing because we were 2-0 up but it’s probably a fair result,” said King, who has been at the club since 2014 and took over from the retiring Derek Hares on 12 July 2022.

“I didn’t think we played particularly well.  I have mixed emotions.  Disappointed to throw a 2-0 lead away but probably over the 90 minutes, probably not a bad result for us and we get another go on Tuesday.

“We didn’t underestimate them at all.  They came third in a Step Five league after getting to the Fourth Round of The FA Vase. It was a really good game of football. The neutrals probably enjoyed it.  Egham were lively all of the first half to be fair.”

King said his side got off to a “dream start,” with one of the quickest goals that will be scored in the entire FA Cup this season.

Central midfielder Macauley Murray drove a long ball forward along the deck from inside the centre circle and the ball was laid off by left wideman Riley Alford and Ben Chapman took a touch before drilling a right-footed shot nestling inside the bottom right-hand corner from 22-yards.

“It was the perfect start, it’s a dream start.  Obviously straight from kick-off.  It gives you a leg up into the game. It was a great strike, a good goal from our point of view, so a great start,” said King.

Egham Town missed a glorious chance to level proceedings after only four minutes and 24 seconds however.

James Richardson played their first corner short to Radu-Mihai Stefanoaica, who delivered a deep cross which was knocked down by Ashley Harrack at the far post and Adam Humphries recycled the ball back for fellow centre-half Haluna Masembe to flick his shot just over the crossbar from close range.

“It was a good chance for them. They’d expect to have scored that,” admitted King.

“I thought we actually defended our box quite well during the first half, got bodies in the way and made some good blocks and stuff like that.”

Egham Town produced some slick patterns of play and targeted Deal Town’s right-back Lewis Stevens-Toomey as a weak link in the home side’s back four.

King noticed that this was Egham’s ploy and swiftly decided in switching to a back five with Maxwell Niblett slotting in at right-back (instead of holding beside Murray), with Stevens-Toomey becoming the centre of three central defenders alongside Kane Smith and Alfie Foster with Penny staying in the left full-back role.

“I thought they were lively going forward, they committed a lot of bodies and their movement was good and we had to make a slight tactical change because they got in a couple of times and we just wanted to secure that area of the pitch,” explained King.

Niblett hit a long ball which split open Egham’s centre-half Samad Kazi and targetman Connor Coyne latched into the ball and visiting goalkeeper Lewis Gallifent gathered at the second attempt, preventing the ball trickling inside the bottom left-hand corner, as Deal Town went route one inside fourteen minutes.

King said: “The thing about the game was it was an open game because they committed a lot of bodies forward and they were lively and that meant when we did get the ball back we always looked a real threat on the counter-attack.

“I said to the boys at half-time we probably had four or five really good chances.  I’m saying we probably didn’t deserve our lead but it was just a very open game of football and it’s about taking your chances when they come.”

Egham Town produced a slick move on the deck with holding midfielder Stefan Powell joining in with an attack and linking up well with Stefanoaica before the ball was worked out to an unmarked Excellence Muhemba.  The striker took a touch and tried to curl his 25-yarder into the top far corner, only for the ball to be plucked out of the air by Henry Newcombe.

“A good save. I’ll be expecting him to save those from that distance,” said King.

“I thought they got on top by then, the second half of the first half.  We sort of got back a bit more control of it defensively.  They didn’t create as much but certainly in the first 20 minutes or so it took us a little while to get to grips with them.”

Deal Town hit Egham Town on the counter-attack at the halfway point with Tom Chapman playing a one-two with Alford down the right and the angle was tight for Tom Chapman as Gallifent got down low to his right to smother the shot and prevent the ball nestling inside the bottom far corner.

King said: “Although I thought they were probably the better side first half, we actually created some good chances because on the counter we’ve got pace and there’s a lot of space.  That was another chance where on another day that could go in. We could’ve been 4-0 up at half-time, not deservedly. It was an open game of football.”

A free-kick from holding midfielder Jordan Goode-Keeley wasn’t cleared by the Deal defence and Muhemba got the better of Coyne down the left hand side of the penalty area and his cut back went in the corridor of uncertainty and Stevens-Toomey was relieved when his attempted sliced clearance was gobbled up by the former Hythe Town goalkeeper, low to his right.

This was a period of dominance from the Egham Town team but they found themselves with a mountain to climb as Deal Town grabbed a second goal, against the run of play at the time, in the 36th minute.

Egham captain and centre-half Adam Humphries tripped Alford (who played for Ashford in the Kent County League and a struggling Hythe Town side in the Isthmian League South East Division last season) in a dangerous position and visiting goalkeeper Gallifent was well-beaten by Penny’s clinical left-footed free-kick from 25-yards, which found the far corner of the goal.

“I would agree it was against-the-run-of-play but we’re always a threat when we can get the ball into the front boys,” said King.

“Riley done well to hold it up, the lad fouled him, a great free-kick from Penny. He's been very good so far pre-season and he was excellent last week and he deserved that goal today, he done very well.”

Former Fisher left-back Tristan Vernal-Francois was penalised for handball and Penny whipped in a deep free-kick from the right channel and Smith came up from the back and steered his towering header over the Egham crossbar as Deal Town went in at the break with the advantage.

“Egham were probably very surprised and very disappointed that they’ve come in 2-0 down.  I don’t think that’s an accurate reflection at half-time, if I’m being honest,” admitted King.

“We just talked about what happened in the game really. It wasn’t a 2-0 game, so we knew the next goal was going to be crucial.  Obviously, if we could have got the third goal it probably would’ve killed the game but we knew at 2-1 it would be game on, so we just talked about some tactical bits.

“I actually thought we started the second half really well in the first 15 minutes, even though we didn’t create a huge amount.  We sort of got hold of the game.” 

King’s men started the second half on the front foot, creating a couple of early chances.

Penny swung in a left-footed corner from the right and this was delivered deep to an unmarked Smith, who hooked the ball back from where it came through a crowd of players which was gathered comfortably by the former Chertsey Town goalkeeper at his near post.

Deal Town produced a slick counter-attacking raid that should have killed the game off with less than three minutes played.

Ben Chapman played the ball out to Penny, who played a one-two with Tom Chapman and a reverse pass gave Penny the chance to sweep his left-footed curler just around the far post from 20-yards.

“I thought it was a great bit of football,” added King. “It would’ve been a great goal that.  Great link up play and if it nestled into the far corner and we went 3-0 up, I think we’d be having a different conversation now but it didn’t, it just went wide and they are the fine margins.”

Stefanoaica, who played a free role behind striker Muhemba, cut in from the left and cracked a right-footed drive sailing over the crossbar from 20-yards, which proved to be his last action of the game before Berry made a game-changing double substitution.

“They made a couple of subs and they changed their shape.  It sort of suited us a little bit and that was probably the most disappointing thing for me. That we managed the first 15 minutes of the second half well and then a mistake from us lead to them getting back in the game.”

Newcombe came charging out of his goal and scythed down Muhemba and referee Kieran Cox seemed to take an age before deciding which colour card to produce.

Egham Town’s coach Liam Bird was heard shouting out “referee, it’s a f*****g disgrace,” so over walked Cox and pulled out a yellow card before the ball was placed just inches outside the penalty area for a free-kick and not a penalty.

Lopes put the ball down and clinically whipped a right-footed free-kick into the top near corner to bring Egham Town back in the game with 17:56 on the clock.

“It’s 100% outside of the box, definitely 100% outside the box,” insisted King.

“I’m not going to comment on what colour card it should’ve been. I haven’t got a good view to see how much cover there was so that could’ve gone either way.

“I can understand their disappointment. I think we would’ve been disappointed if he had sent him off.  What’s frustrating from our point of view was having only to see yellow the lad then puts it absolutely top bins, it was a great free-kick.

“We thought we got away with it but if the free-kick sails over and we’re still 2-0, still got 11 men, it probably deflates them but fair play, it’s a great free-kick and it stems from us giving the ball away in an area where we wouldn’t normally and that’s the frustration from our point of view.”

Egham Town appeared to be the most likely side to score the next goal as Deal Town’s 5-4-1 formation gave their opponents the incentive to press for the equaliser.

However, Deal Town were a threat on the counter-attack and missed a glorious chance to snatch a third goal with 18 minutes remaining.

Murray played a fine diagonal pass from inside his own half out to winger Tom Chapman, who whipped in a low cross towards the near post for lone substitute striker Rene Rivera to flick his first-time shot across the keeper and trickling past the far post.

King said: “I think he should’ve scored! I’m not sure if the offside flag went up. I couldn’t tell if he (assistant referee, Oliver Rule) was putting it up for a goal-kick or offside.

“It was a great move from us on the counter.  They’re the chances that have got to go in.  We were sitting in a little bit and looking to hit on the counter, so when you get in on the counter and you create a good chance like that, it was a great ball by Chappo, a good cross, we’ve probably got to finish those.”

Egham Town deservedly equalised with 36:58 on the clock when Richardson’s through ball split the centre-halves and played in Laraba, who went down too easily after Ben Chapman tried to tackle him inside the box and swiftly bounced up off the deck as soon as the referee pointed to the spot.

Laraba’s emphatic right-footed penalty clipped the inside of the right-hand post and was adjudged to have crossed the line before darting back in play.

King said: “I don’t think it was a penalty. I think we’ve made a great recovery run. It’s just a 50-50 collision.  I think the referee probably got the red/yellow from the goalkeeper on his mind. That one went our way.  I’ll have to watch it back on the video. 

“The referee’s not impacted the result for us today because Egham are a good side. They’ve created a lot of chances so I’m not going to stand here and blame the referee. 

“I think on another day that decision goes our way but the people in the ground will argue the one before went our way so it all evens itself out by the end. I’m not going to blame the officials.”

Both sides missed great chances to claim the victory inside stoppage time.

A poor clearance from keeper Newcombe was controlled by Richardson, who released Muhemba through on goal but his shot weakly at Newcombe in a one-v-one situation.

Penny’s set-pieces were on the money all game and his left-footed delivery was met by Tom Chapman’s free-header at the far post but his downward header was saved by Gallifent’s legs with the clock showing 50:18.

A frustrated King said: “He done everything right with the header, he’s attacked it, headed it down. If it could go either side of the keeper, perfect, but it’s just one of those things.

“From their point of view they probably deserve that, a little bit of luck if you want to call it that.  It hits the keeper’s legs. From our point of view, it would’ve been a great way to win the game, pretty much the last kick.

“It was a great delivery again from Penny, a great header. It wasn’t our day. It didn’t go in. We’ll have one later on in the season that will go in and we’ll stand here and say ‘what a great win.’  It’s fine margins, isn’t it? I’m pretty philosophical about it.”

The winners will travel to Isthmian League South East Division side Three Bridges in the Preliminary Round on Saturday 20 August after they beat Whitstable Town 3-0 in a game where both teams had a man sent off.

King said: “We’re still in the competition. It feels like we’ve probably lost the game because of the way it went, but we’re in the competition.  They’re going to be the favourites, aren’t they?  We’ll go there as underdogs but I think we’ll play better than what we did today. 

“We both now a bit more about each other because when you’re coming in early on in the season you can watch teams in friendlies but it’s not the same.  We did our work – I don’t know if they’ve seen us - but they changed shape from what we were expecting so it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t send someone down to watch us last week.

“We’ve done our due diligence and we paid them full respect going into the game and we’re looking forward to Tuesday.  I think it’s going to be another close game. It wouldn’t surprise me if there wasn’t extra-time, two pretty evenly matched sides.

“We’re only going around the M25, we’re not going to Newcastle or down to Cornwall, so we’ll get ourselves there on Tuesday.  It’s non-league football, so the boys will get out of work early if they need to. We’ve got a fully fit squad at the minute, we’ll have to asses a couple from today that picked up injuries but we’ve got plenty of bodies available.”

When asked about the prospect of facing Three Bridges in the next round, King replied: “That will be tough, whichever side gets through but everyone wants a FA Cup run don’t they, so we’ll be giving it everything we can on Tuesday and if we manage to prevail we’ll obviously go to Three Bridges on the 20th and do our best there.”

Deal Town: Henry Newcombe, Lewis Stevens-Toomey, Jack Penny, Maxwell Niblett (Jack Hanson 80), Kane Smith, Alfie Foster, Riley Alford (Joe Reeves 80), Macauley Murray, Connor Coyne (Rene Rivera 68), Ben Chapman, Tom Chapman.
Subs: Euan Sahadow, John Brayne, Sam Taylor, Kieron Hollier

Goals: Ben Chapman 1, Jack Penny 36

Booked: Henry Newcombe 60, Ben Chapman 82

Egham Town: Lewis Gallifent, Ashley Harrack, Tristan Vernal-Francois, Samad Kazi (Jabir Laraba 52), Adam Humphries, Haluna Masembe, Stefan Powell, Jordan Goode-Keeley (Daniel Brown 77), Excellence Muhemba, James Richardson, Radu-Mihai Stefanoaica (Eric Lopes 52).
Subs: Jeremiah Okwuolo, Ezekiel Williams, Luke Maguire, Sean Alexander

Goals: Eric Lopes 63, Jabir Laraba 82 (penalty)

Booked: Samad Kazi 12, Jabir Laraba 53, Liam Bird 62 (coach), Radu-Mihai Stefanoaica 83, Eric Lopes 90

Attendance: 326
Referee:  Mr Kieran Cox
Assistants: Mr Mark Roberts & Mr Oliver Rule