Deal Town 1-4 Binfield - Sometimes you've got to say you were beaten by the better side, says Deal Town head coach Steve King

Saturday 10th April 2021
Deal Town 1 – 4 Binfield
Location The Charles Sports Ground, St Leonards Road, Deal, Kent CT14 9AU
Kickoff 10/04/2021 15:00

The Buildbase FA Vase Third Round
Saturday 10 April 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from The Charles Sports Ground

DEAL TOWN head coach Steve King says he will take their FA Vase exit on the chin and it will take him a couple of days to recover after being knocked out by an impressive Binfield outfit.

Jointly-managed by Jamie McClurg and Carl Withers, the Moles were in second-place in the Hellenic League Premier Division and unbeaten after seven league games at the time that the 2020-21 football season was brought to a halt due to Covid-19.

Binfield arrived on the Kent coast a point behind Flackwell Heath, who beat Stansfeld 3-0 in The FA Vase Second Round before pulling off a shock 1-0 win at Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division leaders Chatham Town seven days later.

The last time that both Deal Town and Binfield took to the field in a competitive fixture was by winning their Second Round ties after a penalty shoot-out away from home back on 5 December 2020.

Deal Town overcame Saltdean United (3-2 on penalties) and Binfield beat Newhaven 4-1 on penalties after both games finished all square at two-all.

With Deal Town sitting in tenth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table, Binfield were made favourites for this Third Round tie and on their impressive performance here, the favourites tag was justified.

Deal Town took the lead inside the opening eight minutes when centre-half Alfie Foster used his shoulder to score at the near post following a corner and the home side were more likely to score from dead-ball situations than from open play as their main threat, right-winger Troy Howard was kept in the pocket of Binfield’s left-back Elliot Legg during the entire game.

Binfield equalised through an unmarked Josh Helmore following a free-kick routine nine minutes before half-time before they controlled a vast majority of the second half to run out deserved and convincing winners.

The Moles will fancy themselves for their last 32 tie away at Fakenham Town next Saturday, a side that play one level lower and were top of the Eastern Counties League First Division.

Binfield striker Sean Moore notched his eleventh-goal of the campaign by punishing a mistake from Deal Town’s central midfielder Macauley Murray and another mistake, this time on the edge of his own box by centre-half Kane Smith was eaten up by Ollie Harris.

Left-winger Harris capped a man-of-the-match inspired performance by scoring a beautiful goal at the end of the game.

“Disappointing afternoon but I think we’ve got to be fair and say the better side won,” said King.

“The scoreline is a bit harsh but obviously at 2-1 with 15 minutes left we’re going to throw bodies forward and we’ve got countered a couple of times. It was a great finish from the lad at the end.

“I’m not sure it was a 4-1 game. Disappointing but proud of the boys’ efforts.

“Binfield are a good side. We said that before. They’ve lost one in 11 games (this season) and they were just the better side over the 90 minutes.”

Both sides started the game at a high tempo and Binfield called James Tonkin into action twice with shots from outside of the Deal penalty area inside the opening five minutes.

Moore’s initial drive was blocked and the ball came out to George Short and the attacking midfielder’s first-time fierce drive from 25-yards was comfortably held by Tonkin.

Legg went on a few attack-minded runs during the first half and he cut in to the centre of the pitch before unleashing a drive from 25-yards which forced Tonkin to push the ball away while stretching high to his right.

“We’re happy for teams to shoot from range. We expect Tonks to save them from there. He did his job, as we’d expect,” said King.

Deal Town grabbed the lead, however, by taking the lead when Murray delivered a superb corner from the left towards the near post and Foster attempted to head the ball in, instead the ball bounced off his shoulder and beat Chris Grace from six-yards.

“I think we’ll say he headed it in. We better not say shouldered it in but I thought Macca’s delivery all afternoon was outstanding,” said King.

“I thought we looked a threat from set-pieces throughout the whole game. It was a great delivery. We worked on that in training, hitting that near post space and Alfie’s got on the end of it.

“It was a great start. I thought we were the better side for the first 20 minutes.”

Deal Town were a well-organised outfit in defence during the opening exchanges as their 4-2-3-1 formation came up with a traditional 4-4-2 formation from the visitors’.

Deal Town had a good spell without creating any goalscoring chances before Binfield created an opening just before the half-hour mark.

Harris’ free-kick was put into the box from the right with his right-boot and the towering Short guided his downward header from the edge of the box which bounced into the hands of the Deal Town keeper.

However, Binfield’s training ground methods came to fruition when they equalised.

Harris appeared to be attempting a shot at goal from 35-yards, instead he played the ball on his outside to an unmarked David Hancock.

The centre-half floated the ball into a crowded penalty area and his defensive partner Liam Gavin rose to knock the ball over to an unmarked Helmore, who placed his shot into the bottom right-hand corner from the edge of the six-yard box as the home side appeared to have stopped and was expecting an offside flag from assistant referee Richard Joss.

King said: “I thought we were outstanding for 20-25 minutes and then they just got on a foothold on it and we struggled to get out. We were hacking clearances a little bit and once they got a foothold we needed half-time when it came.

“The goal was really disappointing from us. I don’t really want to say too much until I’ve seen it on the video but it’s a second phase set-piece.

“They’ve gone short, I’m not sure what’s happened but it’s disappointing. We don’t concede many goals from set-pieces so I’m going to have a good look at that one later.”

Binfield were on the front foot for the remainder of the first-half but had to settle for going in at the break on level terms.

“We just needed to try to get a foot on it and get on the ball and try to keep it a little bit more. We’ve given it away too easily,” admitted King.

“We needed to try to get the ascendancy back in the game.”

Binfield created their first opening of the second half after only 86 seconds when Legg found himself in the channel to put over a cross towards the edge of the box, which was met by Short’s flick-on, which should have dropped into Tonkin’s midriff. However, Harris (who never stopped running and was a constant threat) ghosted in and got to the ball first with his head and the ball went just over the crossbar.

Binfield were keen to clip long balls over the top of the Deal Town defence during the second half and this tactic worked as Deal Town were being hit on the counter-attack.

More good wing play from Harris resulted in him whipping the ball in from inside the penalty area and Moore was lurking unmarked at the far post and he drilled his shot just past the near post from 15-yards.

Binfield deservedly took the lead in the 63
rd minute when Deal Town’s holding midfielder Murray lost possession to Short in the final third and the tall number 10 slipped a fine through ball into Moore and he emphatically cracked his right-footed drive over Tonkin’s left-shoulder and into the top far corner of the net from 14-yards.

“Sean Moore is a 30-goal a season man at this level and I thought he was very good for them today,” said King.

“We defended pretty well against him until it got stretched at the end.

“The boys think it was a foul (on Murray). I haven’t got a great view of it so I couldn’t say but once they’ve nicked it 10-yards outside our box, it’s going to be difficult and the boy finished it well.

“It was a disappointing goal from our point of view because I think it’s certainly avoidable.”

Nothing was going right for Deal Town in an attacking sense. Right-back Jack Paxman put in a cross, which was sliced towards his own goal by Gavin but the ball was caught by Grace.

Physically strong targetman Connor Coyne came out of the main stand and climbed the barrier to enter the field of play in the 68
th minute as the home side switched formation with right-back Paxman playing further forward down the left flank and Lee Scott leaving his defensive holding midfielder role beside Murray to slot in at right-back in his place.

The tactic almost worked as Deal Town should have grabbed an equaliser in the 69
th minute.

Hancock clipped Deal’s number nine Ben Chapman (started as a lone striker before dropping behind Coyne with Paxman and Howard on both flanks) and Murray delivered another great cross from just outside the right-hand corner of the box.

Coyne attempted to flick the ball on as he jumped inside the box and the ball fell to Foster at the far post but he couldn’t score from a couple of yards out and Grace smothered the ball low to his right and Foster held his head in his hands in acknowledgement of being guilty of a crucial miss.

“I think it fell at Alfie’s feet but I think it went over three people’s head to start with and we said out there somebody’s got to go and put themselves and the ball in the net really. That would have been a great chance to equalise,” said King.

Exactly three minutes later and Binfield went very close through Short’s right-footed volley, which screamed just past the right-hand post after the ball came out to him after Harris had two bites of the cherry to put the ball into the box from the left-hand side.

Binfield’s dominance continued and they deservedly increased their lead in the final 13 minutes.

Right-back Jack Thompson-Wheeler played the ball up to substitute Josh Howell (who replaced Helmore who picked up a knock) and he played the ball up towards the edge of the Deal Town box.

Last defender Smith failed to control the ball with his foot and this costly mistake was punished as lurking close by was Harris, who took a touch before drilling a clinical right-footed angled drive across the keeper and nestling into the bottom far corner.

“We’ve gone 4-4-2 or even almost 4-2-4, we’ve thrown bodies forward,” added King.

“Ultimately, we might as well lose the game three or four-one. There’s no goal-difference or anything. We’re not just going to sit in and take a 2-1 defeat so we’ve thrown bodies forward and when there were spaces for them as well, their bit of quality at the end, the third goal is a mistake on our part and then the fourth one was an absolute wordie!

“Their front three are good players’. I just think they’re a good side and today they played well and they took their chances and we made a couple of mistakes for the goals and fair play to them.

“Kane’s been good for us but just on a wet surface he’s made a mistake, not much I can say about it really.”

Deal Town fashioned another chance from another Murray set-piece again inside the final seven minutes when the ball fell to Paxman inside a crowd of players and he stabbed the ball just past the foot of the left-hand post from penalty-spot distance.

A ball over the top from the half-way line put Harris through on goal but Tonkin made a comfortable catch before Harris capped off an outstanding performance with an outstanding goal.

Central midfielder McClurg swept a crossfield pass from the right over to the other side of the pitch and Scott left Harris in oceans of space.

Harris swept a sublime first-time right-footed shot curling beautifully into the top far corner of the net from 25-yards to keep his club’s Wembley dream alive by reaching the Fourth Round for the second successive season when they lost on penalties in a replay by Derek Hares' side in Berkshire.

Deal Town live streamed this game as it was played behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions - which included both sets of players being banned from using the dressing rooms and the clubhouse was closed too, so expect this goal to be shown on social media for many weeks to come.

King said: “It’s hard to enjoy an oppositions’ goal but if someone’s going to score a fourth in the 90
th minute, I was right behind it and it’s an absolute cracker, isn’t it? Fair play to him.

“We’ve got outnumbered, we’ve thrown bodies forward and he’s whacked it in to the top corner from 25-yards, so a bit of quality from him.”

Binfield can now look forward to a trip to Norfolk in seven days’ time, the season is now over for Deal Town, who had four training sessions ahead of this outing.

“We’ll take it. We’ll take it on the chin. We’ll have a little bit of a sulk up for the next couple of days and then we’ll start thinking about getting ready for next year,” said King.

“We’ve got a good, loyal group of players that will be around us for next year and we’ll be looking to get stronger.

“We’ll learn lessons from today. We were under no illusions coming into today. I think because of last year’s result, people looked at it and thought it was a 50-50 game.

“Ultimately, they’ve should have been promoted twice out of the Hellenic League. Flackwell Heath, who are top of their league turned over Chatham, who have got to be one of the strongest sides in the country at this level so it was a formidable task for us today.

“Sometimes you’ve got to say you were beaten by the better side and we’ve got to move on to next season.”

Let’s hope by the time the 2021-2022 season kicks off in August, there is no such thing as games of football being played behind closed doors, we’re all vaccinated to prevent us suffering from Covid-19 and can all attend football grounds to watch our beloved football teams.

“First of all well done for staying in the warm because it was freezing here,” said a rain-drenched King, when asked if he had a message for Deal Town fans watching online.

“Thank you for everyone’s support. It’s gutting because these are the types of games at one-all, if we had 500-600 people in here cheering you get another yard in your legs and when you’re behind in the game it helps.

“I think we’ve seen at the top level, even at this level when you’re behind-closed-doors sometimes the more experienced side find it a little bit easier, the pressure is off and you haven’t got 500-600 people on at them.

“Thanks for their support from home and we look forward to having everybody back here come July for the pre-season friendlies. I can’t wait for that. We’re all in that boat of getting back to some sort of normality.”

Deal Town: James Tonkin, Jack Paxman, Liam Hark, Lee Scott, Kane Smith, Alfie Foster, Joe Reeves (Connor Coyne 68), Macauley Murray, Ben Chapman, Billy Munday (Ryan Lewis 75), Troy Howard.
Subs: Jack Penny, Keiran Jones, Steve O’Brien, Keiron Hollier

Goal: Alfie Foster 8

Binfield: Chris Grace, Jack Thompson-Wheeler, Elliot Legg, Kennie Chamberlain, Liam Gavin, David Hancock, Josh Helmore (Josh Howell 57), James McClurg, Sean Moore, George Short, Ollie Harris.
Subs: Calam Gallimore, Joel Valentin, Jemel Johnson, Mohammed Ayoub

Goals: Josh Helmore 36, Sean Moore 63, Ollie Harris 77, 90

Booked: James McClurg 32, Kennie Chamberlain 40

Attendance: 0
Referee: Mr Kane Dempster
Assistants: Mr Richard Joss & Mr Ryan Chantrill-Smith