Erith & Belvedere 2 Deal Town 1

Sunday 05th March 2006
Erith & Belvedere grabbed three vital points as two late Leon Braithwaite goals snatched victory at home to fellow promotion hopefuls, Deal Town on Saturday, writes Thomas Hawes.

Despite losing captain Lewis Tozer with a groin strain after just five minutes, the Deres started positively, Leon Braithwaite’s header saved by Deal’s Jason Hughes after ten minutes.

However, it was Deal who came closest to scoring in the opening 20 minutes.

Aaron Robinson cut inside having easily outpaced Deres player/manager Wayne Brown and his shot from 20 yards was a vicious one, and fortunately for the home side, Ricky Hall’s bar stopped the away side going ahead.

Robinson wouldn’t have to wait long before he finally found the back of the net. On 25 minutes, the ball fell kindly to him, firing the ball past Hall from six yards out to put the seasiders ahead.

Erith were almost level on the stroke of half-time when Jody Ricketts crashed Mark Nougher’s cross at the bar from six yards out and Deal went in at half-time a goal to good.

The second half was to be frustrating for Erith. Having dominated for vast periods of the half, with just 15 minutes remaining, Deal were still ahead in a game that, if they were to keep their promotion ambitions alive, the Deres had to win.

And that’s when Leon Braithwaite showed his class that had earned him international caps earlier on in his career.

Having picked up the ball 30 yards out, Braithwaite embarked on a mazing run that culminated in a sublime curling shot from 16 yards to equalise.

With just six minutes, Deal’s former Ramsgate defender Michael Cassar played a simple ball back to his keeper, Jason Hughes. More in hope than expectation, Braithwaite closed down Hughes.

The goalkeeper’s clearance, however, was blasted at Braithwaite who promptly slid the ball under the embarrassed Hughes to give the Deres a crucial win.

The former Margate striker could have completed his hat-trick in the dying moments, but his shot from 20 yards out was never going to trouble Hughes.

The Deres stretch their unbeaten run to nine games, and they will hope to continue that run when they visit neighbours Slade Green at the Small Glen next Saturday.

Erith & Belvedere: Hall, Tague, Murphy, Tozer (Gibson 5), Brown, Crawley, Martin, Ricketts (Hussein 67), Braithwaite, White, Nougher (Chalk 87)