Deal Town 4-0 Kennington - We're flying at the minute, we've won nine on the bounce but it's still early days and we'll never get above our station, insists Deal Town coach Steve King

Saturday 23rd October 2021
Deal Town 4 – 0 Kennington
Location The Charles Sports Ground, St Leonards Road, Deal, Kent CT14 9AU
Kickoff 23/10/2021 15:00

The Buildbase FA Vase First Round
Saturday 23 October 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from The Charles Sports Ground

DEAL TOWN head coach Steve King insists his players are not going to get above their station after extending their impressive winning streak to nine games after thrashing their league rivals Kennington to reach the FA Vase Second Round.


Derek Hares’ side went into the game in fifth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 27 points from 11 games, while Ashford-based Kennington were three places lower with 19 points on the board from 12 league outings.

This was the third time that Deal Town have beaten Kennington this season.  The Hoops won the league game here 2-0 on 14 September and came back from Homelands Stadium with a 5-1 win in the Kent Senior Trophy First Round seven days ago and a crowd of 423 saw Kennington capitulate as a four-goal blitz in 37 first-half minutes saw the hosts comfortably through.

Centre-half Alfie Foster produced a striker’s clinical finish when put through on goal inside the opening six minutes, before attacking midfielder Ben Chapman opened his account for the season with a brace, while centre-half Kane Smith bravely headed in the third goal following a set-piece.

Kennington manager Dan Scorer declined to comment after the game although he and his management team had a little too much to say during the game.

Assistant manager Sam Fisher was shown a yellow card by referee Ryan Chantrill-Smith in the 40th minute, while Dan Scorer was also shown a yellow card in the 70th minute, immediately followed by a red card for his goalkeeper coach Dan Cook, all for showing dissent towards the match officials.

Kennington left-back Harry Stow was sent off for a late challenge at the end of the game, as the club suffered its second-heaviest defeat in their FA Vase history.

Kennington reached the Third Round for the only time last season, losing on penalties to Sutton Common Rovers after a 1-1 home draw, while Deal Town reached the Last sixteen two seasons ago and the Third Round last season, losing to Consett and Binfield respectively, two sides who went on to reach Wembley Stadium, losing to Hebburn Town (3-2) and Warrington Rylands (3-2) respectively.

“I thought it was an excellent performance,” said King.

“We got all of the goals in the first half to make it pretty comfortable for us and we were pleased with how we managed the second half.  I know people will say ‘go and get more goals’, but we wanted to keep that clean-sheet.

“We actually thought first half we were a little bit too open, they probably had more chances than we would’ve liked so we tightened it up second half and delighted to get through.  It’s another win so that’s really pleasing and another clean-sheet, so a very good day.

“I think Kennington are a good side and I think they’ll be in the top seven or eight this season. I’ve got a lot of time for Dan Scorer and the boys at Kennington and they’ll bounce back. 

“That was probably a mark of how far we’ve come as a side this year that we’ve beaten them three times and pretty comfortable as well.”

One Kennington player who came out of this game with any credit was 17-goal targetman Gary Lockyer, who created a chance after only 19 seconds.

Tom Scorer hit a long ball up towards Lockyer, which sailed over Smith’s head but Lockyer’s right-footed half-volley from 25-yards was comfortably caught by the recalled James Tonkin into his midriff.

“I thought we were a little bit open first half. They’re decent going forward, Gary Lockyer has scored a lot of goals. Tom Scorer’s a good player, so we know they’re a threat going forward,” said King.

“We thought we were a little bit loose but they didn’t have any clear-cut chances. There were a lot from range, a lot from distance but we tightened up a little bit and the word clinical you use was spot on.

“It was probably an even number of chances in the first half but we took ours and we missed a couple of others actually but we got in good areas to score and our set-pieces were good.”

However, Deal Town were clinical in front of goal during the first half, taking the lead with only five minutes and 8 seconds on the clock.

Right-back Jack Paxman launched seven of his eight long throws into the Kennington box during the first half and his second throw-in was cleared back out to him on the edge of the box and he charged into the box, played the ball inside to striker Sam Wilson, whose reverse pass played in Foster, who showed composure and a clinical streak by slotting his right-footed shot across the recalled Joe Mant and into the bottom far corner from 12-yards.

“I’m not going to say too much because if he knows I’m going to agree with that (it was a striker’s finish) then he’ll dine on it but Alfie’s good in front of goal,” said King.

“He’s a good player.  We’ve converted him from a midfielder over the last couple of years. Technically he’s decent. I thought it was a great little flick from Sam Wilson and a composed finish.

“We said in the dressing room that the first goal was going to be really important so getting it early was a big fillip for us.”

Deal Town also won the corner count by 8-4 and went close with their third flag-kick.

Jack Penny swung the ball in with his right-foot from the right towards the near post for Wilson to plant his header just over the crossbar.

Kennington were forced to go long in their attacks and in the 13th minute central midfielder Harry Lavender hit a long ball from inside his own half and Lockyer laid the ball off for Tom Scorer, who dragged his first-time left-footed shot across the keeper and past the far post from 25-yards.

Deal Town were patient with their next attack when Macualey Murray and Max Niblett linked up in midfield before winger Troy Howard played the ball inside to Wilson who teed up Tom Chapman, who drilled his right-footed shot towards goal from 25-yards, which was smothered and held by Mant, low to his left.

Tom Chapman sprayed a rolling ball out towards Niblett on the right but Kennington centre-half Adam Phillips had yards on him but opened the gate for Niblett to race into the box and his right-footed dink was tipped around the post by Mant in a one-on-one situation in the 20th minute.

“Tom Chapman’s been excellent since he’s come in. We knew he would, I’ve known him a long time. He’s an outstanding player but he’s also an outstanding character and he’s fitted straight into the dressing room,” said King.

“Max Niblett has been excellent and that would’ve been nice to have made it two but we know Joe Mant, he’s played a few games for me, he used to play for me as a kid and he’s a good goalkeeper and he did well.”

The battle between Smith and Lockyer was a good one and the Deal Town centre-half accidentally kicked the Kennington number nine in the head as he stopped down to control the ball outside the box.

Lockyer rubbed his head a few times before stroking the resulting right-footed free-kick towards goal from 30-yards, which bounced once and was comfortably gathered by Tonkin, dropping down to his knees in the centre of his goal.

Lockyer was clearly pushed from behind by Smith but the referee failed to award Kennington a penalty and some woeful defending put the game out of their reach by half-time.

Deal Town deservedly doubled their lead in the 31st minute when Murray played a diagonal ball over to Paxman, who was left in oceans of space by some woeful positioning from Stow.  Paxman cut into the box and put it on the plate for Ben Chapman to rifle his first-time right-footed shot into the roof of the net.

King said: “We’ve been joking to Ben Chapman because he normally scores a lot of goals for us and he hasn’t scored yet but he likes to score in the Vase so the boys were saying in the dressing room ‘alright mate, today’s the day.’

“It was a great finish, he gets into those areas all of the time. He’s a fantastic player, really pleased that he went and got the fourth one as well. Delighted for him, he’s such a good player for us.”

Deal Town killed the game off by scoring their third goal just 158 seconds later, following their sixth corner of the game.

Murray floated the ball in from the left and Smith bravely powered his diving header into the bottom far corner from within a crowd of players, head first amongst numerous pairs of legs.

King said: “We work on our set-pieces a lot and Macca’s delivery was spot on. Kane Smith and Alfie Foster are both of our centre-halves and scored today, which we’re pleased about. It was a great header from Kane and perfect for us.

“We try to get every bit of our game right going forward in open play, defending properly, set-pieces at both ends, so we’re always delighted when we score from them, so it was a great goal.”

Kennington still had their chances though.  Phillips delivered a deep free-kick into the Deal Town box from the half-way line and Lockyer knocked the ball back across goal for unmarked holding midfielder Gary Clarke to head straight at Tonkin when either side it would have been a goal.

James Haylock-Ashdown whipped in a quality deep corner in from the right and Clarke found space at the far post to steer his header back across goal and just past the far post.

The threatening Lockyer smashed a shot towards the near corner from just outside the penalty area and Tonkin had to use his chest to ensure the ball went behind for a corner.

However, despite that Kennington flurry, clinical Deal Town notched goal number four in the 43rd minute, with the Chapman brothers heavily involved, as Kennington’s centre-halves Phillips and Calvin Sedenu put in a woeful performance.

Ben Chapman played the ball into Tom Chapman, the recent signing from Isthmian League South East Division side Ramsgate, putting Ben Chapman through, who slid the ball into the bottom far corner with his right-foot with only Mant to beat.

“They linked up well there, they linked up well for one last week, linked up together today and I thought it was a great finish from Ben. He deserves it. He works tirelessly for us every week and it was nice for him to get his reward with a couple of goals and man-of-the-match today,” said King.

Deal Town declared at half-time and Kennington’s players had some soul-searching to do, although they played with more heart and desire during a cagey second half, with the damage already done by an in-form side.

King revealed: “We actually talked about defending. We talked about tightening up, giving away less chances and making sure we do the right things and just manage the second half really.

“We didn’t need to go gung-ho. We didn’t want to turn it into a game of basketball and we didn’t want it to be a 5-3 or something like that.  We were happy at 4-0.

“My last words were 4-0 suits me fine so let’s go and do a job!  Look, we would’ve liked to have added a fifth for the fans to have something to cheer at the end but delighted with what happened and we did everything that we asked at half-time, so full credit.”

Kennington created an opening within the opening six minutes when right-back Luke Hughes was in space and he fed the ball into Tom Scorer, who cut in from the right and the quiet Robbie Dolan laid the ball off back to Tom Scorer who flicked a first time shot with the outside of his boot over the crossbar from 18-yards.

Deal Town went close just before the hour when Murray’s corner from the left was punched away by Mant.  Troy Howard's header (despite being hit by Sedenu after the ball was played) set up Smith, who hooked his shot across the keeper and whistled just past the foot of the far post from the right-hand side of the box.

King added: “I thought there were a few iffy challenges on us in the second half as they got a little bit frustrated.  We took Troy Howard off really just to protect hm because he was taking a few whacks.” 

Kennington made a double change and a tactical change with Haylock-Ashdown slotting in at left-back, while Stow went over to right-back to replace the binned Hughes, while Lavender was replaced by left-winger Sobechi Nwaokolo.

It took Kennington a little while to create an opening when in the 28th minute, Stow got in behind Penny down the right and had plenty of space to flash a low cross across the face of goal towards an unmarked Lockyer but the angle was too tight for the sliding targetman and he poked the ball harmlessly wide.

“Our defensive shape was excellent second half.  We just made the sub and we didn’t track Stow well enough so it was probably our only defensive mistake in 45 minutes in the second half,” added King.

“We pride ourselves, when we get ourselves organised, we’re hard to break down and that’s what we wanted to do second half and they weren’t peppering our goal. We were pretty comfortable and it was important to us to keep our discipline.”

Tom Chapman was in space too, just 73 seconds later, scuffing a weak shot towards the Kennington goal from 30-yards, which was comfortably collected by Mant.

King said:  “It wasn’t his best strike ever but I think the most pleasing thing for me today was Troy Howard and Tom Chapman weren’t absolutely on fire but we still managed to get four goals. 

“Everyone knows they’re big threats for us but we’ve got threats all over and maybe in the past when we were reliant on maybe one or two people, both centre-halves have scored and a midfielder has got a couple as well so it’s really pleasing that we’ve got threats and goals coming from all over in this little run that we’re in at the minute.”

With less than six minutes remaining, Clarke played the ball inside to Nwaokolo, who drilled his right-footed shot harmlessly wide of the target from 30-yards, before Nwaokolo and Haylock-Ashdown linked up down the left and his first-time cross was looped towards goal by Lockyer’s shot on the turn, which was caught by Tonkin, while under pressure from Tom Scorer.

Smith pulled Lockyer down some 30-yards from goal but Lockyer’s drilled right-footed free-kick was smashed into the wall and looped just over the Deal Town crossbar.

Kennington finished the game with 10 players on the pitch when Stow was sent-off for a late challenge on Deal Town substitute Joe Reeves on the halfway line inside stoppage time.

King added: “I thought it was harsh, I thought it was silly from the lad because he’s gone for him (Reeves) after the ball was gone.  I’m not sure how much the ref saw it, I think the ref saw how late it was and probably gone for that.

“If the guy hasn’t kicked Joe Reeves three seconds after the ball’s gone the referee hasn’t got a decision to make. It was a bit harsh but I would’ve been disappointed if one of my lads had gone in that late because they’re going to lose him now and he’s a good player.”

Surprise package Erith Town, meanwhile, climbed to the summit with 31 points from 13 games after their 3-0 win at Bearsted today, as Adam Woodward’s men took advantage of their being only three Premier Division games on FA Vase day.

Glebe are now in second place with 28 points from 11 games, followed by Sheppey United (28 points from 10), Chatham Town (27 points from 10) and Deal Town remain in fifth and challenging.

After nine successive wins in all competitions, Deal Town have every right to join the title race.

King said: “We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves because there’s a long way to go but we’ll prepare for each game properly and if in another 10 games time we’re still up and around it then we’ll have a look but we’ve got our own targets internally and we’ll keep working towards those.

“You speak to me in February and we’re still only a point off Sheppey, Chatham and Glebe them we might discuss (promotion) but with those three sides, with their resources and the sides they’ve got should be the top three and if we can win the rest of the league that’s outstanding for us and if we’re still in touching distance at Christmas and afterwards then you can have a little chat and we’ll maybe talk about other things.”

Deal Town travel to bottom-seven side Bearsted (12 points from 12 games) on Tuesday night before a trip to Fisher next weekend.

“Their league table position can’t be right. They’re always a good side Bearsted, Kevin Stevens always has them organised with lots of pace, lots of technical ability and I know they’re still bottom half but we’ll be treating them with the upmost respect. We’ve never had an easy game against them since they’ve come in the division,” said King.

“We’ll prepare properly and we’ll prepare between now and Tuesday and we’ll do all the right things and we’ll go there trying to get a good result but we know Tuesday at Bearsted, Saturday at Fisher, two real tough away games, so let’s see if we can go to next Saturday night with another two wins but Tuesday is going to be tough.”

Deal Town – Kent’s only FA Vase winners back in 2000 – want to enjoy another long run in the competition for a third successive season.

King added: “We love the competition, I love it. We like playing different sides. If we can get to the national rounds, which I think is the last 16, that’s brilliant. If we can get a good day out and if we can get to the last sixteen,” added King, who was them asked what success will mean to the club this season.

“Seventh is our highest league position so beating that will be success and progressing to the latter stages of one of the cups, the Kent Senior Trophy or the Challenge Cup and try to have a Vase run.

“We’re flying at the moment, we’ve won nine on the bounce but it’s still early days. We’ll let other people do the talking and get carried away about how we’re doing. We’ll just focus on ourselves and never get above our station and we’ll keep working. 

“We may have to reevaluate our targets, if we do, we’ll do that at the right time.

“I said to the boys before the game, I said the last two seasons the teams that have knocked us out of The FA Vase have gone to Wembley, so it’s a challenge, let’s make that happen again and if we get beat by a real good side who go all of the way, like (our victors) have in the last two years.  You look back and you think if we can keep going, you just never know, do you?  We all know the beauty of the Vase.”

Deal Town: James Tonkin, Jack Paxman, Jack Penny, Macauley Murray (Joe Reeves 74), Alfie Foster, Kane Smith, Troy Howard (Rene Rivera 65), Max Niblett, Sam Wilson (Connor Coyne 76), Ben Chapman, Tom Chapman.
Subs: Connor Miller, Liam Hark

Goals: Alfie Foster 6, Ben Chapman 31, 43, Kane Smith 34

Booked: Jack Penny 38

Kennington: Joe Mant, Luke Hughes (Liam Middleton 63), Harry Stow, Gary Clarke, Calvin Sedenu, Adam Phillips, Robbie Dolan, Harry Lavender (Sobechi Nwaokolo 63), Gary Lockyer, James Haylock-Ashdown, Tom Scorer.

Booked: Sam Fisher 40 (assistant manager), Calvin Sedenu 59, Luke Hughes 61, Dan Scorer 70 (manager)

Sent Off:  Dan Cook 70 (goalkeeper coach), Harry Stow 90

Attendance: 423
Referee:  Mr Ryan Chantrill-Smith
Assistants: Mr Jamie Turner & Mr Krystian Kaczala