Sutton Athletic 0-3 Deal Town - I thought the boys bounced back well from Saturday so it was a professional job this evening, says Deal Town assistant Steve King

Tuesday 30th January 2018
Sutton Athletic 0 – 3 Deal Town
Location Lower Road, Hextable, Kent BR8 7RZ
Kickoff 30/01/2018 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Third Round
Tuesday 30 January 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Lower Road

DEAL TOWN assistant manager Steve King says a professional performance saw them progress through to the Quarter-Finals of the Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup at the expense of a spirited Sutton Athletic side.

Deal Town will travel to Whitstable Town in the last eight after coming away from Hextable with a comfortable 3-0 win, courtesy of two strikers getting on the scoresheet.

Sam Wilson rifled in the opening goal to settle any nerves before they upped their tempo during the first 10 minutes of the second half with Connor Coyne scoring a spectacular strike before Wilson headed in his 19th goal of the season.

The away side went into this game in sixth-place in the Premier Division with 38 points from 22 games, just six points adrift of leaders Sevenoaks Town.  They went down to a 4-3 defeat at struggling Tunbridge Wells at the weekend and made just the one change, defender Dean Hill nursing a hamstring injury.

Tonight’s defeat has extended Sutton Athletic’s winless run to eight games.  They are sitting in the bottom four in the First Division table with 18 points from 23 games.  The Sutts are nine points clear of basement side and Crockenhill.

“The aim was to get through tonight,” said King, as both managers were interviewed in the dark under torchlight due to a power failure plunged the ground into darkness just minutes after the final whistle.

“I don’t think we played particularly well but I thought we was pretty much in control and once we got the first goal we looked pretty comfortable and killed it off in the second half.

“We could’ve played a bit better but we had a really tough game at Tunbridge Wells on a heavy pitch on Saturday and I think a few of the boys were feeling it. We lost Lee Scott to a hamstring in the first half and Andy Miller had to come off with another one and there were a few boys who were just looking after themselves.

“But it was a job done for us away from home on a Tuesday night.

“They beat Corinthian in the last round. We did our homework on them. We had them watched so we knew what their threats were.  I thought the boys bounced back well from Saturday so it was a professional job this evening.”

Sutton Athletic manager Dan Kelly said: “To be honest, I think the better team won the game, obviously.  They managed it better than we did from the start.  I thought we gave a not bad account of ourselves, especially the league positions at the minute.

“We are building again this year, it’s certainly a rebuilding season. We had a great win against Corinthian in the last round so we knew it was going to be tough. They were on good form on the night.  They were just better than us, they played better than us.”

Deal Town, as expected, created the first chance of the night inside the opening 12 minutes.

Central defender Kane Smith launched a free-kick from inside his own half up to Wilson, who flicked the ball up and with his back to goal hooked a volley towards the far corner, the ball looping into the hands of goalkeeper Matt Bishop.

“Sam’s got a lot of goals for us. He gets in and around the box and the keeper’s done well there to be fair to him,” came King’s reply.

Kelly said: “I can’t really remember Matt having too many saves in the first half, apart from the goal really.  He made a good save and they reacted well.

“The first half we defended well – we had to defend well – we didn’t give them any clear-cut chances.  Matt’s a good, young keeper. He’s only 19, maybe 20 now. It’s good for his confidence for what might seem a simple save.”

Deal Town were a threat from set-pieces all night and another chance came from this method.

Andy Miller swung in a free-kick with his right-foot from the right flank and Kane Smith directed his downward header into Bishop’s hands for a comfortable save.

King said: “We try to isolate Kane. He’s only a young lad, he’s only 21, he doesn’t look it but he’s a big threat for us from attacking set-pieces and we isolated him and the keeper done well.”

Sutton Athletic lone striker Jack Howlett endured a frustrating night for the 63 minutes that he was on the field of play.

Bishop launched a big kick down the middle and Howlett knocked the ball back for George Reed to hit a first time right-footed volley screaming harmlessly past the left-hand post from 25-yards.

Deal Town deservedly opened the scoring with 17 minutes and 31 seconds on the clock, courtesy of another set-piece.

This time, right-back Jack Paxman launched a long throw into the box, the ball dropped at Ben Chapman’s feet and he swept his shot towards the bottom far corner.  Bishop pulled off a fine block, diving low to his right but Wilson was on hand to rifle his shot into the top left-hand corner.

King said: “He’s been a great find. He scores goals in the six-yard box. If you look at both of his goals tonight, they’re scrappy goals but I think that’s 19 for the season he’s got now and he’s in the right place at the right time.

“Connor Coyne does a lot of good work for us up front but he doesn’t get the goal return and Sam has really added that and I think it’s probably the main reason we’ve done well this year.”

Kelly added: “Again, that sometimes is the difference in levels.  The throw, the striker sets it, a great strike. Matt’s made a great save but they’ve reacted to just tap it in.

“It was just disappointing because for the first 10-15 minutes I thought we played some nice football, not necessarily threatening but we were keeping the ball.

“That’s what I said at half-time. We gave not a bad account of ourselves in the first 45 minutes but at that level if you switch off for a second they pounce and are clinical.”

Deal Town created another chance shortly afterwards but holding midfielder Alfie Foster launched an acrobatic overhead kick across the keeper and just past the far post after another Miller free-kick.

King admitted: “I’m not quite sure what Alfie was trying but I’m sure we wouldn’t have heard the end of it had it gone in!

“I think at that point we were just piling the pressure.  I never thought we’d opened them up and I think credit to them, they defended well, they were quite solid and compact.  We’ve got a bit of pace and we never really got in behind them but from set-pieces and stuff like that we looked quite dangerous.”

King, who was in charge tonight with manager Derek Hares suffering from flu, withdrew central defender Scott after 36 minutes due to fitness and Scott was less than impressed after being benched.

Danny Smith came on at left-back and Liam Hark moved inside to central defender to partner the excellent Kane Smith at the heart, while Paxman was the other full-back.

Chapman played in a low cross from the right which was poked harmlessly wide at the near post by Wilson.  Referee Josh Smith somehow awarded Deal a corner.

Sutton Athletic missed a glorious chance to grab an equaliser in the 42nd minute.

Conor Ansell drove forward, played the ball on the outside to James Sutherland and the winger hung over a deep cross towards the far post for left-winger Conor Evans to loop his header over from the edge of the six-yard box.

Kelly revealed: “Not something he normally does either! I don’t think I’ve seen him head it this season so it was nice to see him do it! 

“I think we had good passages of nice play but no real cutting edge apart from that. It was unlucky to come in at 1-0, 1-1 would have been nice!”

When asked his thoughts at the break, Kelly said: “We were in the game, 1-0 is nothing really. We haven’t created much but we were defending well and we were not doing too bad.

“The first 10 minutes was key.  I said their manager will go in there and give them a rocket, looking at their league position.

“I said to my boys we need to be in this for as long as we can. If we keep defending like we are we might get that chance like we did at the end of the first half and nick something.”

King added: “We said to the boys at half-time, they weren’t throwing bodies forward but on the counter-attack if we’d made a mistake they could be dangerous in a way.

“We didn’t get the tempo up and the game was a bit flat and we needed half-time just to have a word with them and get them going really again for the second half really.

“I didn’t have to say too much.  You’ve come here on a Tuesday night, get yourselves 1-0 up. We’re a decent side, we’ve got decent players and I just said let’s go and kill the game in 15 minutes and then you can ease off for the last half-an-hour, whereas if it’s 1-0 with 10-15 minutes left they’re going to have a go at it and anything could happen and the boys took it on board.  I thought our movement was better at the start of the second half and we got the goals.”

Sutton Athletic keeper Bishop pulled off a brilliant save to frustrate Coyne just 99 seconds into the second half.

Chapman got down the right channel and whipped in a low cross across the face of the six-yard box for Coyne who stroked a low left-footed shot which was brilliantly kept out low down by Bishop.

“Great save!  I think Con knows he’s got to score! Chappo’s done well and Coyne’s done well, got in a great position and the keeper’s done well.  Coyne’s worked his socks off for us on Saturday on a very heavy pitch and put another great shift in for us tonight so I can’t certainly fault him,” King said of his targetman.

Sutton Athletic boss Kelly added: “That was a fantastic save, I’m not going to lie.  Matt has done that for us all season, he’s made some mistakes during the season, I’m not going to lie but he’s a young keeper. I thought it was a goal, the way he’s clawed it out, that’s what he does, it was a great save!”

Deal Town’s increase in tempo worked, as they doubled their lead with four minutes and 37 seconds on the clock.

Miller, who was out on the right, clipped a cross to Coyne, who dug the ball from underneath his feet, before drilling a left-footed drive in off the inside of the far post from 25-yards.

“That is Connor! That is Connor! For a centre forward he scores more goals from outside the box, decent spectacular goals and we keep on at him to try to get in the six-yard box and score those little tap-ins,” said King.

“It’s nine goals for him now, he’ll probably end up with 15-16 this year the way we’re going.  We know he can do a spectacular, it’s those tap-ins that we want him to get on the end of but he’s done great for us.”

Kelly added: “It was a fantastic finish to be fair to the lad. Our centre half came out, he got dragged out, dived in possibly. He should have stood up but credit to the lad, it’s a great finish. He’s hit it, what can you do about goals like that?”

Deal Town wrapped the game up with a third goal with only nine minutes and 12 seconds on the clock.

Substitute Danny Smith swung in a corner from the right towards the far post for Wilson to plant his downward header just inside the bottom far corner of the net.

King said: “Danny’s come on, he’s an experienced player and the one thing we get as soon as he comes on the pitch is a great set-piece delivery. It was another great ball in and Sam, it’s another one in the six-yard box. He got a decent header on it, a decent goal, I can’t fault him.”

Kelly added: “That one, I was a little bit disappointed, I don’t think it was a corner before that but having said that we set up zonal on the corners and that’s maybe the first or maybe second time we’ve conceded this season from a corner, so when you think about the percentage on that, it’s always going to happen.

“I’ve just seen a video of that goal on Twitter funnily enough and what’s disappointing, the man on the post has been drawn to the ball and that’s how it’s gone in but it could have been avoided.

“But I don’t think it was a corner.  Things either go for you or they don’t and that didn’t go for us that time.”

Striker Euan Sahadow, who is on a dual-registration deal from Bostik Premier Division play-off chasing Folkestone Invicta, strode forward before hitting a left-footed drive towards the bottom corner from 30-yards, but Bishop dived to his left to tip the ball around his post.  The referee, who was being observed, decided to award a goal-kick. 

“Neil Cugley’s been good enough for us to have him. He’s done well for us. He’s been really unlucky actually. He’s come in and started in the side, did well but where Sam Wilson and Ben Chapman have been in and amongst the goals and Coyne’s the focal point for us.  Euan’s probably deserved to start recently but every time when he comes off the bench he looks dangerous and lively and he did again tonight and he looked good when he came on.”

Sutton Athletic decided to make a game of it during the final 25 minutes as Deal Town took their feet of the gas.

Danny Smith’s intended pass to Hark was intercepted by Sutherland, who cracked a right-footed 30-yard drive into James Tonkin’s hands for a comfortable save.

“It’s not a bad snap shot. Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it don’t. It was nice to get a shot off,” admitted Kelly.

When asked what was going through his mind at 3-0 down, Kelly replied: “Damage limitation! Not so much damage limitation but the games gone then so it was a matter of what have we got? Show a bit of pride and a bit of fight at that point.

“Where they are in the league and where we are at the minute it was probably an expected scoreline so for me especially 3-0 down, how will my boys react? I told them not to drop their heads and don’t get whacked going into the league on Saturday.”

Deals’ King added: “We didn’t create chance-after-chance. We weren’t all over them to be fair but they kept going and we held out quite well and defended our box when we had to so yes I was pleased with the boys.

A long ball out of defence by Sean Heather put Sutherland through on goal but he lashed his shot harmlessly wide from 20-yards.

Sutton Athletic went close to scoring inside the final 12 minutes following their third and final corner of the night.

Evans swung in the ball from the left and Michael Mills came up from the back to smack his volley over the crossbar when he made some space for himself from inside the penalty area.

Kelly said: “We made a couple of tweeks in terms of changes.  The big lad (Scott Wason) who came on, that was his first game for us and he probably held it up a little bit better for us.

“Eli Graham on the wing has just come back from injury and gave us a bit of impetus with pace.

“Maybe at the same time Deal knew the game was dead so they sat off a little bit but that gave us the freedom to go forward but at 3-0 it was nice that we didn’t stop and we still had a go at the end.

“Unfortunately, the one person you don’t want that to fall to 12-yards out on his wrong foot is Mike Mills! He’s an absolute warrior for us at the back and he’s been at the club for as long as I have. He’s getting on. Anyone else that might have been 3-1!”
Deal Town created a couple of late chances.  Sahadow played in fellow substitute Harry Alexander, whose shot just cleared the crossbar before Dan Adams bent his low shot narrowly past the foot of the far post.

Sutton Athletic host Sporting Club Thamesmead on Saturday, while Deal Town have a day off before their trip to Lordswood next Wednesday.

Deal Town will travel to fourth-placed promotion chasing Whitstable Town in the Quarter-Finals and King said:  “A nice local derby for us. We know a lot of their players and they’re a good side, Scott Porter’s got them well-organised.

“We beat them at home in the league so we go there with no fear but we go in as underdogs – why not? This is the only cup competition we’re left in so we’ll be giving absolutely everything and giving it a bit of confidence.”

Reflecting on tonight, Kelly said: “As long as we can get a bit of momentum going into the league. If we can try and mix it and compete against a team that high in the league above it can only give my boys a bit of confidence.”

Sutton Athletic: Matt Bishop, Tom Hammond, Luke Newman (Joe Hill 66), Jamie Taylor, Michael Mills, Sean Heather, James Sutherland, George Reed (Eli Graham 63), Jack Howlett (Scott Wason 63), Conor Ansell, Conor Evans.
Sub: Dan Gunner

Booked: Luke Newman 54

Deal Town: James Tonkin, Jack Paxman, Liam Hark, Alfie Foster, Kane Smith, Lee Scott (Danny Smith 36), Andy Miller (Euan Sahadow 56), Dan Adams, Connor Coyne (Harry Alexander 71), Sam Wilson, Ben Chapman.
Sub: Trinn Brisley

Goals: Sam Wilson 18, 55, Connor Coyne 50

Attendance: 54
Referee: Mr Josh Smith (Tunbridge Wells)
Assistants: Mr Andy Butler (Maidstone) & Harry Graham (Orpington)

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