Deal Town 2-0 Kennington - If we can keep the players fit and available for the rest of the season, then I think we'll go pretty close of being in the top end of the play-off places, says Deal Town boss Steve King

Sunday 08th October 2023
Deal Town 2 – 0 Kennington
Location The Charles Sports Ground, St Leonards Road, Deal, Kent CT14 9AU
Kickoff 08/10/2023 15:00

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Sunday 8 October 2023
Stephen McCartney reports from Charles Sports Ground

DEAL TOWN manager Steve King says it was difficult to beat Kennington with nine players on the pitch after extending their unbeaten run to eight games.

Deal Town have climbed into seventh-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 17 points from their nine games, three points adrift of fifth-placed side Erith Town, having picked up their eighth win on the bounce in all competitions.

Kennington manager Dan Scorer didn’t make himself available for post-match press duties, with his side winless in their eight league games and rooted to the foot of the table on two points.

A crowd of 535 witnessed a first half stalemate but the home side grabbed the lead just 24 seconds into the second half through right-winger Tom Chapman’s third goal of the season.

Referee Jamie Turner showed two red-cards, to Tom Chapman and right-back Liam Hark in a 13 minute spell during the second half, before Deal countered and sealed the victory with Ben Chapman’s fifth goal of the season, while they had nine men on the pitch, with 13 minutes remaining.

“Eventful afternoon.  I think we were worthy of the three points over the game,” said King.

“The sending’s off made it difficult and an eventful ending but seven wins on the bounce, we’re very pleased with the win.

“We knew it was going to be tough. We took absolutely no notice of Kennington’s league position.  They’ve played a lot of away games against good teams and we knew it was going to be tough and it proved to be – but it’s a clean-sheet and an important three points.

“I thought the first half was pretty scrappy but the pitch was difficult for us.  Kennington always work hard and they made it difficult for us.  We knew we could sort of wear them down in the first half and hopefully pick them off in the second half. 

“Obviously, we’re delighted to get the goal right at the start of the second half – that was important to us and then we thought we controlled the game from there.”

Deal Town created their first opening with five minutes and 39 seconds on the clock, following their first corner of the game.

Rory Smith played it short to left-back Jack Penny, who swung in a cross with his left-foot from the right towards the back post.  Centre-half Kane Smith’s towering header from four-yards was flying towards the top left-hand corner, only for Kennington goalkeeper Joe Mant to raise his right-hand to push the ball over the crossbar.

“I thought that was a good save.  I thought they defended their box very well and that made it difficult for us,” added King.

Kennington were proving to be a tough nut to crack during the first half and six-goal powerfully built striker Ryan Philpott was working hard up front on his own.

Harry Lavender – who sits in front of Kennington’s three centre-halves – played the ball into Philpott’s feet (who held off Penny) inside the Kennington half, before Charlie Owen released left-wing-back James Haylock-Ashdown and his ball in from the left was lashed harmlessly wide of the far post by Owen’s right-footed half-volley from 25-yards.

King was asked about the knocks suffered by attacking midfielder Rory Smith and centre-half Alex Green.

“Rory came in with a little knock and he just wasn’t right and Greenie just felt, just tweaked a muscle. Both precautionary.  We’ve got a lot of games coming up. We’ve got a long season and they’re both important players for us, so I wasn’t going to take any risks.”

Kennington missed a decent chance to smash the stalemate in the 31st minute, however.

Deal substitute Jack Hanson gifted possession away inside his defensive third to Joe Fisher, whose through ball gave Philpott a chance to score but he drilled his left-footed drive screaming past the top of the left-hand post from 16-yards.

The impressive Philpott nicked the ball off substitute centre-half Alfie Foster and strode forward but lacked composure just outside the box, drilling a powerfully struck right-footed drive past the top of the near post.

Deal Town were denied the opening goal in the 40th minute, thanks to the legs of Kennington goalkeeper Mant.

Holding midfielder Billy Munday split open Kirby – the man in the middle of the away side’s three-man defence – with a fine through ball to put Josh Byford through on goal but his right-footed shot from 15-yards was blocked by the goalkeeper.

King said: “It was a good pass from Billy. I thought he was outstanding today by the way.  I don’t often agree with the man-of-the-match awards given here but I thought that was spot on today.  I thought he was excellent.

“I thought Byford took it early and it was a good save from Manty – he’s one of the best goalkeeper’s in the league.”

The first half lacked quality and Kennington’s game plan of stifling the game caused plenty of frustration for King inside the home side’s technical area.

“I said keep going, keep trying to wear them down.  I thought their front boys, Tom Scorer, Vinnie (Philpott) worked really hard in the first half and we felt if we kept moving the ball, that we might be able to get in there.

“We wanted to start and try to get the intensity up.  I think sometimes on hot days it can be a bit like pre-season, the sun is out. We said ‘let’s get the intensity up’ and I thought we started the second half brilliant.

“I was quite confident.  We know how to win games of SCEFL football and sometimes you have to win them over 90 minutes.  You can’t always win them in the first 45.”

However, Deal Town grabbed the lead just 24 seconds into the second half, with a hint of controversy.

The Kennington management team claimed from within their technical area that the ball had gone out of play by the time that Tom Chapman drilled a 60-yard diagonal ball from just over the half-way line.

Munday cut the ball back from the left by-line to Penny, who floated in a precise cross with his left-foot from within the channel towards the back post for Tom Chapman to hook his right-footed volley looping over Mant and dropping in from six-yards.

Kennington assistant manager Sam Fisher was then shown a yellow card for dissent, while a number of the away side's management team were standing up in front of their dug-out.

Unfortunately the touchline is not visible from the back of the four-tied main stand, so you couldn’t see if the ball was in play or not.

“I was right by it and the ball was still in play,” claimed King.

“The communication between the referee and the assistant (Mark Roberts) was poor all afternoon. The assistant was giving decisions and the referee was giving other ways. It was very, very poor.

“The ball didn’t go out.  There were a couple of others that did, that were wrong, like some awful ones and given out but the ball didn’t go out and obviously we’ve worked it to the other side of the pitch. It was a good delivery by Jack Penny and a good finish by Tom.”

Kennington’s best chance of the game arrived in the 55th minute when Owen’s stinging free-kick from 35-yards was heading towards the roof of the net and Deal Town goalkeeper Henry Newcombe dived high to his right to push the ball towards safety with both of his hands.

King said: “He should’ve held it but yes it was a good save.  It’s the middle of the goal, he’s got to catch it. He made it look good didn’t he?  We had a few cameramen here so I thought it was a good save but I expect him to catch those.”

The Ashford-based outfit were enjoying a good spell at this point in the game but they were lacking ruthlessness in the penalty area.

Referee Jamie Turner got a big decision wrong when Kennington’s Kirby clearly made the first contact on Tom Chapman on the halfway line and committed an awful foul.

Both players required treatment and Kirby came off worst and was forced off with a serious looking knock - and there was shock when the referee showed a red card in Tom Chapman’s direction from within a group of many players from both sides, when Kirby should have been the recipient of the 62nd minute red-card.

“The first sending off, I just can’t be having a sending off. I just can’t be having a sending off,” insisted King.

“I think it’s an awful decision and that’s obviously changed the game and then we changed shape but look I’m pleased with the win, I’m pleased with the result.

“I just don’t understand it. I will give the referee the benefit of the doubt and wait until I’ve had a chance to watch the Veo.

“Tommy’s dribbling with the ball, it’s bobbled, they’ve both missed it, they’ve collided. 

“I don’t understand how a man that’s dribbling with the ball is going to do that.  If I’ve got it wrong and I will watch it on the Veo and I’ll hold my hands up but he’s not making a tackle, he’s dribbling with the ball.

“Look, I’ll give the referee the benefit of the doubt. He’s obviously seen something that I don’t think anyone in the ground saw.  I think most people thought their man might be sent off.”

King hinted that the club will appeal the red card after they check the video footage as Tom Chapman will serve a three-match ban while Hark will serve a one-match ban, both suspensions kicking in in seven days’ time.

“It happened very quickly. I’m going to speak to the referee in a minute because obviously it has ramifications if he mises three games, so we’ve got the Veo.  If I’m wrong and it’s a red-card then fair play, I’ll come out and say that, but it looked a very strange one.”

Kennington were temporarily reduced to 10 men when Joe Fisher was thrown in the sin bin (1:47) and was cautioned towards the end of the game for a foul on Ben Chapman. 

A temporary dismissal (sin bin) yellow card and a second yellow card does not result in a red-card, for those confused people in the stadium who thought the referee should have sent off the Kennington midfielder for two yellows shown.

Kennington – now without any win in eight games in all competitions - lacked quality to make the man advantage count and in the 27th minute of the half, Owen was in acres of space and unleashed a right-footed drive flashing past the left-hand post from 35-yards.

The home side were reduced to nine men with 75 minutes on the clock when Hark was correctly sent-off for committing a professional foul on the very edge of the penalty area after bundling over Joe Fisher, after getting turned.

“That’s a red card, that’s a red card. He’s just got caught on the edge of the box and to be honest it’s a professional foul isn’t it,” said King.

“He hasn’t let him get in the box, he’s fouled him on the edge of the box. It’s a free-kick and the free-kick (from Joe Fisher) goes over the bar.  I’ve got no complaints about that red card.”

Kennington’s left-centre-half Max Sutton gifted Deal Town their second goal when it arrived with 31 minutes and 54 seconds on the clock.

Sutton’s pocket was picked by the excellent Munday on the right and Munday drove towards the by-line before cutting the ball back for Ben Chapman to sweep past Mant from six-yards.

“It’s outstanding, isn’t it. Two midfielders with nine men going and nicking the ball and setting each other up,” said King.

“I said afterwards that sums us up.  Outstanding from both of them. A lot of sides with nine men wouldn’t even think about doing that but we knew another goal at 1-0 with nine men, if you can get one (it will win us the game).  It was brilliant from the pair of them and then I thought that we managed it really well.”

King was full of praise for the character shown from his players, while pressure mounts on Dan Scorer, whose side are three points adrift of Welling Town, trapped in the sole relegation spot but with two games in hand on Kevin Oakes’ men.

“I’ve never doubted that about the boys,” said King, when asked about his players’ character.

“They’re good characters, they’re great boys. I have no worries about them doing that. It’s just difficult when you’re defending with nine players but what did we restrict them to? Three shots from outside the box, I think, in that time period, yes, we’ll take it.”

Winless Kennington’s shooting was awful with substitute striker Finlay Dent latching onto Joe Fisher’s cross before clipping his left-footed shot on the turn over the crossbar from 18-yards.

Deal Town welcome ninth-placed Snodland Town to the Charles Sports Ground next Saturday to contest a Kent Senior Trophy First Round tie.

Luke Wallond’s side went down to a 2-0 defeat away to Lydd Town earlier today and sit in ninth-place in the table with 15 points from their first 10 league games playing in the ninth-tier.

Deal Town reached the Kent Senior Trophy Final last season but suffered a six-goal humiliation at the hands of Chipie Sian’s Punjab United on Sunday 16 April 2023.

“It’s a game we want to win.  We’re very hurt from what happened last year. We want to try to put that right if we can," said King.

“We had 1,500 fans at a final and lost 6-0 so there’s a desire amongst the group of players to see if we can get back there and try to put right that wrong.

“Snodland are a very good side, they’re going to be in and around the play-offs.  It's going to be tough but we’ve lost twice at home in 11 months so look we’ll train this week and see what we have available and we won’t be taking it lightly.

“Let’s put it that way, we’ll be trying to win the game before we go to Erith and we’ve got a really tough league game the following week.”

King, meanwhile, has conceded the league title to Sammy Moore’s Faversham Town – who are operating with the biggest budget in this League’s entire history.

Faversham Town are currently top of the tree with 24 points from 10 games, while the play-off places contain Fisher (22 points from 11), Glebe (22 points from 11), Corinthian (21 points from 11) and Erith Town (20 points from 11).

King revealed that his playing budget is lower than what Faversham Town are paying Stefan Payne and Billy Bingham.

“I think we need to try to get in the play-offs.  I think Faversham, you can’t compete with Faversham.  They’ll win the league,” said the Deal Town boss.

“If we get in the play-offs – we finished fourth two seasons ago and third last year – so getting in and around those positions and let’s see what happens in the play-offs.

“I’ll take any of them but get in the higher spots of the play-offs and get yourself a home draw or even maybe two home draws.  I fancy us at home but it’s a difficult league, there’s a lot of money being spent.

“We get on average the biggest crowd in the league and we’ve been priced out of players’ all of the time by club’s that are in midtable - it’s difficult.

“There are a lot of sides going for it and there’s a lot of sides that will keep going for it.

“We’ve tried to build a model, all of these players have been here a long time pretty much when we were a midtable side.  We try to add in one or two when we can but it’s not easy.

“Look, I still think as a club we’re punching above our weight a little bit, not in terms of what we do off the pitch but just some of the money being spent elsewhere.  It is difficult to compete at times but I think we’ve shown in the last seven or eight games that when we’ve got players fit and available, we’re a good side at this level.

“If we can keep people fit and available for the rest of the season, then I think we’ll go pretty close to being in the top end of the play-off places.”   

Deal Town: Henry Newcombe, Liam Hark, Jack Penny, Billy Munday, Kane Smith, Alex Green (Alfie Foster 35), Josh Byford (Alex Smith 74), Ben Chapman, Aaron Millbank (Connor Coyne 84), Rory Smith (Jack Hanson 25), Tom Chapman.
Sub: Jamie Kennedy

Goals: Tom Chapman 46, Ben Chapman 77

Sent off: Tom Chapman 62, Liam Hark 75

Kennington: Joe Mant, Charlie Owen, James Haylock-Ashdown, Matt Kirby (Edward Miller 65), Luke Hughes (Kyron Lightfoot 88), Max Sutton, Craig Calvert (Muhammed Cham 65), Harry Lavender (Finlay Dent 77), Ryan Philpott, Tom Scorer, Joe Fisher.
Sub: Jordan Griffin

Booked:  Max Sutton 44, Ryan Philpott 45, Sam Fisher 47 (assistant manager), Joe Fisher 87

Temporary Dismissal: Joe Fisher 47

Attendance: 535
Referee: Mr Jamie Turner
Assistants: Mr Mark Roberts & Mr Ismail Isik