Deal Town 1-0 Southall - I think we made really hard work of it, admits Deal Town head coach Steve King

Saturday 07th August 2021
Deal Town 1 – 0 Southall
Location The Charles Sports Ground, St Leonards Road, Deal, Kent CT14 9AU
Kickoff 07/08/2021 15:00

The Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Saturday 7 August 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from The Charles Sports Ground

DEAL TOWN head coach Steve King says his side made hard work to get past ten-man Southall in this FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie.

Max Howell’s side lost their left-back Alcino Souza Santos to a straight red card for a bad foul on Troy Howard in the 51st minute, as the Kent side had to wait until an injury-time winner from target-man Connor Coyne to earn a trip to Redhill in two weeks’ time.

Deal Town’s opening Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division game here against Chatham Town last weekend was abandoned at half-time due to a waterlogged pitch with the score at 1-1, before Derek Hares’ men came away from Lordswood with a comfortable 3-0 win on Tuesday night and went into the 150th anniversary of The FA Cup in the top six.

Southall began their Combined Counties League Premier Division North campaign with a 3-1 defeat at Reading City, before bouncing back to come away from Spelthorne Sports with a 2-0 win and arrived on the windy Kent coast in second-place in their table, the same level as the hosts.

“Really pleased that we’ve won, obviously getting through is crucial with the prize money,” said King, whose club scoop £1,125, with Southall £375.

“We didn’t play very well but we kept going, obviously got a last-minute winner.  I thought we did ok against 10 and made the pitch nice and big and we got the result. I think the phrase is, we won ugly.

“I don’t think we played at the level we’ve been playing at and I think that was the frustrating thing.

“They were a competitive, strong side. I think 11-versus-11 it was 50-50. Obviously, after the sending off we looked like the only side who were going to win it but even then we did create chances.  The keeper made a good save but we’re pleased to get the goal at the end.

“I think with the way that we’ve played so far was better than what we’ve shown today and I think we made really hard work of it, so that was where the frustration came from.”

Deal Town created their first opening in the 13th minute, following a long free-kick from Macauley Murray which saw his central midfield partner Billy Munday ghost past Southall’s combative holding midfielder Daniel Julienne to plant his header over the top of the near post from 10-yards.

King said: “We’re always a threat from set-pieces, We had a couple of chances in those situations but we never really got going.  We never really got going into top gear all afternoon.

“I think you’ve got to give credit to Southall. They came down here and they were strong. We just weren’t quite at it but look, we’ve kept a clean sheet, we’ve won the game, so if I’m standing here saying ‘we weren’t quite at it’, and we’ve managed to win the game, it’s not the worst place to be.”

Deal Town goalkeeper James Tonkin showed the kind of form that proved exactly why his club put him under contract this season as he kept his side in the game during Southall’s most impressive spell of the game.

Winger Ryan Hope played the ball on the deck into the feet of physically strong striker Aaron McLeish, who spun Deal’s centre-half Kane Smith on the edge of the box before playing the ball inside to Nathan Denis, whose first shot was blocked before his second attempt from 14-yards was gathered at the second attempt by the Deal keeper.

Southall enjoyed possession down the right-hand side of the pitch and McLeish whipped in a cross from within the channel for left-winger Darreon Mark to cut across his man to glance his header across Tonkin and past the far post.

King was clearly frustrated with his players as the game moved into the 20th minute mark and a half-chance was then created.

Murray drilled a free-kick down the left from the halfway line for Sam Wilson to whip in a cross where Jack Paxman cut across his marker to glance his header across goal and harmlessly wide.

Southall issued their hosts a warning in the 29th minute when Santos was allowed to travel with the ball at his feet before sending over a deep cross but McLeish was in an offside position by the time his shot went in off the inside of the near post and nestled into the opposite corner.

“I think their nine was a handful all afternoon. I thought he was strong, he was physical. I think the goal was offside. We could see from where we were,” King said of McLeish.

“They forced us to change shape in the first half because their front two were causing us problems and we went into a back three after about 25 minutes so credit to Southall.  We pride ourselves on clean-sheets and if we think we’re getting vulnerable defensively, we’ll make a change and they made us do that today.”

Southall were bossing proceedings and they were to be denied a deserved lead by a fine double save from Tonkin.

Southall centre-half Carl Pearce played the ball up to McLeish (excellent at holding up the ball) and he shrugged off Deal’s centre-half Alfie Foster who attempted to rugby tackle him outside the box but McLeish managed to curl his left-footed shot towards the top far corner, which Tonkin flew high to his right to palm away.

Fellow striker Denis retrieved the ball close to the by-line and cut the ball back to Mark, whose first-time shot was gobbled up by Tonkin, grabbing hold of the ball low to his left.

“He is a great goalkeeper. I’ve known him since I taught him when he was 11 years old – he’s a fantastic goalkeeper,” King, a PE teacher, added.

“I know there’s a few managers around that say ‘they’ve got the best goalkeeper in the league,’ I’m not making that statement but I wouldn’t swap him, I’ll put it that way. But today, that’s why we rate him so highly.”

Mark stole the ball off Murray in midfield before striding forward before stroking his right-footed drive towards goal from 25-yards, which Tonkin comfortably gathered low down while dropping down to his knees.

Deal Town then changed formation to 4-3-3, which weathered the storm and they went close to grabbing the lead on the half-hour mark following a set-piece.

Paxman’s free-kick from the right was punched poorly by a stretching Berkley Laurencin but he managed to use his legs to deny Munday in a scramble before Coyne’s shot was poked through a crowd of players before being cleared away.

Denis threaded through a fine low pass to put right-back Alex Nolan through on goal but Tonkin came off his line to narrow the angle to gather at the second attempt at his near post.

The open first-half continued and the home side went up the other end and called Laurencin into action in the 32nd minute.

Tonkin’s big kick straight down the middle was flicked on by Coyne and Wilson cracked a right-footed drive towards the top right-hand corner from 16-yards, forcing the Southall goalkeeper into making a flying save to his left to tip behind for a corner.

King added: “I thought Sam Wilson was our best player, other than James Tonkin today.  I thought Sam was excellent throughout, that was a good shot there.

“I thought it was a good game, I think both sides went for it. Both sides were on the front foot and had a good go.  I thought it was a coin toss when it was 11-versus-11. I thought either side could’ve gone on and won it.  Obviously, that changed after the red card.”

Deal Town went close again from another Paxman free-kick, which was flicked towards goal by Coyne at the near post, the ball sailing across the keeper and dropping just past the foot of the far post.

Impressive Southall were guilty of a glaring miss which was to be the last kick of the first-half, with the home side desperate for the half-time whistle to sound so Hares and King could rally their troops.

Nolan threw the ball to his captain Hope, who hooked the ball up to Mark, who slipped in McLeish in behind Sam Gibson and Foster but the Southall striker lost all composure and drilled his shot over the crossbar when he only had Tonkin to beat.

“We needed half-time,” admitted King.

“I was saying on the side to the boys ‘just get us in.’  We needed to re-arrange. We made a change at half-time and we were pleased it didn’t go in. Sometimes you have to ride your luck. We’ll look back on this in April or May and we’ll look at the results – 1-0, home win – but we know we rode our luck so we’ll take that today.

“We changed shape again. We played our third shape of the second half to try to get at them and we brought Troy Howard on. We wanted us to be a little bit better and try to get on the front foot and get the ball out to Troy.”

Deal’s back four during the first half were (left-to-right); Gibson, Foster, Smith and Hark.  However, at the start of the second half it was to be Gibson, Hark, Foster and Paxman.

However, Southall shot themselves in the foot when referee Kieran Cox pulled a red-card out of his right pocket and sent Santos off in the 51st minute for a bad foul on Howard, who was a threat down the right wing after coming on at the break.

Howell dropped winger Mark into the vacated left-back position, leaving McLeish up there on his own as Denis dropped back into a midfield four.

“I honestly didn’t see it,” admitted King, who watches parts of the game up in the gantry above the main stand and other parts alongside Hares standing in the technical area.

“I was walking down from the top. The boys said it was high, caught him just below the knee. I can’t comment and that’s not me being difficult. I generally didn’t see a tackle.”

Deal Town seized control of the game for a good five minute spell and created a couple of headed chances to break through Southall’s resilience.

Yet another Paxman free-kick was met by Smith on the edge of the box and his towering header from 16-yards forced Laurencin to dive to his left to tip around the post.

Wilson missed a glaring chance for Deal Town in the ninth minute of the half.

Howard whipped in a cross from the right which was begging to be planted past the Southall keeper, only for Wilson to hold his head in his hands in despair after planting his header straight at the stopper.

King said: “That was a good chance. That was a great cross, a great header, probably our best move of the game.

“Troy was unlucky to be left out today. We went for a little bit more experience. We were expecting it to be a really physical first-half. We knew coming off the bench he was going to have an impact and he did that so fair play to him.”

Deal Town enjoyed plenty of possession but found Southall a hard nut to crack and the away side went close to grabbing the lead in the 66th minute.

Hope played a one-two with Nolan in midfield before drilling a speculative right-footed drive from 35-yards, which flashed just past the foot of the right-hand post.

King said: “I think once it went to 10, we managed it well. We changed the shape again. I think we played four shapes in 90 minutes. We went 4-4-2 when they went down to 10. Their front two were causing us problems, then they only played one up and we got on top.”

At this point the most likely outcome was a Tuesday night replay in Stanwell – Southall groundshare Ashford Town (Middlesex)’s Short Lane ground – and King agreed.

“Yes. In a word, yes. We stood on the sidelines thinking about what side we might play on Tuesday and where their threats were. The only thing I’d say, I always felt there was going to be a goal.  I thought maybe they might nick one on the counter and we’ll give one away, so when we finally got the goal, there was a lot of relief.”

The home side, however, kept plugging away and had a chance to win the game inside the final nine minutes.

The impressive Wilson played the ball into Paxman, who fed Coyne, who flicked his pass inside to substitute left-winger Harry Alexander, who was left in space just a couple of yards inside the box but his curler went around the far post.

King said: “Great strike – he’s got to hit the target. I said to him, we’ve worked it well and he’s got to work the goalkeeper but I thought tactically we made the pitch nice and big when we were playing 10 and we got the wide boys in a lot. It was just that end product and a bit of quality.”

Southall manager Howell made a couple of substitutions in a bid to eat up time with McLeish (44:46) and central midfielder James McCluskey (47:13) coming off.

The board with the number three showing was raised with 47:26 on the clock, the winning goal was scored with 47:46 on the clock and the final whistle broke Southall’s hearts with 51:59 showing.

The lifting of the electronic board sprung Deal Town into life and they left it late to seal the Deal.

Ben Chapman sprung to life and sprayed the ball out to Howard on the right and he was left in oceans of space as Mark went missing and his stroked shot should have been gathered by the keeper at his near post.

Laurencin spilled the shot, however, Wilson’s shot was blocked and Coyne pounced to sweep his right-footed shot into the empty goal from a couple of yards out to open his goalscoring account for the 2021-22 season.

“All I say to the boys is we worked hard getting bodies in the box and we had bodies in the box and Connor Coyne put it away,” said King.

“He got two against them a couple of years ago when we beat them 2-0 in The FA Vase so they must hate him and he popped up with the last minute winner today.

“It was scrappy and probably summed up the game but look, we’re through so we’ve got to be happy.”

Tunbridge Wells crashed out of The FA Cup by losing 2-1 at Walton & Hersham today and Richard Styles brings his side here in the league next Saturday.  Deal Town then travel to Hollands & Blair – 3-0 home winners over Holmesdale in The FA Cup today – on Tuesday 17 August.

Deal Town travel to Redhill in The FA Cup Preliminary Round on Saturday 21 August.  Redhill comfortably saw off CB Hounslow United 3-0 away from home.

“We’ll do our work, we’ve got two weeks so we’ll make sure we’re prepared,” said King.

“We’ll enjoy tonight, we’ll celebrate today, you can hear the boys enjoy it now (with Sweet Caroline blasting out of the home dressing room) but then tomorrow morning we’ll get ready for Tunbridge Wells – a big one in the league – and then we’ve got to go to Hollands & Blair and away to Redhill so by that point we’ll be ready.”

When asked what today’s win meant for the club, King replied: “Quite a bit of money, which is always a bonus. That can’t be understated and it means we’ve got that FA Cup dream going. It always means we’ve started the season unbeaten.

“I always think when you’re at a club at our level, if you can get through to the First Qualifying Round, then you can start drawing a big game. A dream for us at this stage we’ll be a Margate or a Folkestone (both Isthmian Premier Division clubs, two levels higher than Deal Town) down here. Another crowd like we had against Dover in pre-season, then the National League South sides come in the Second Qualifying Round normally, so if you win three you’ve got your Maidstone’s, Dartford’s and Welling’s, all those big Kent sides.

“For a club like ours, if you can get through a couple of rounds and pull a game like that, that will be massive but the money is obviously important and the fact that we’ve stayed unbeaten.”

Deal Town: James Tonkin, Liam Hark (Harry Alexander 70), Sam Gibson, Billy Munday, Alfie Foster, Kane Smith, Sam Wilson, Macauley Murray (Troy Howard 46), Connor Coyne (John Brayne 90), Ben Chapman, Jack Paxman.
Subs: Keiron Jones, Harvey Wright

Goal: Connor Coyne 90

Booked: Alfie Foster 69, Kane Smith 83

Southall: Berkley Laurencin, Alex Nolan, Alcino Souza Santos, Daniel Julienne, Carl Pearce, Louis Dailey, Darreon Mark, James McCluskey, (Jack Roper 90), Aaron McLeish (Kiemon Robinson 90), Nathan Denis, Ryan Hope.
Subs: Steven Matala, Bobby Julienne

Booked: Aaron McLeish 90

Sent Off:  Alcino Souza Santos 51

Attendance: 174
Referee: Mr Kieran Cox
Assistants: Mr Jamie Turner & Mr Morgan Davis