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FA Vase quarter-finalists Deal Town are away at VCD Athletic in the SCEFL Premier Division this Saturday – manager Steve King confident his squad can cope with fixture pile-up

Deal’s weekend postponement left them with eight games in hand over league leaders Glebe - but manager Steve King is confident he has the squad to cope.

The Hoops won’t have it easy if they are to be successful this season as they chase league and cup success but King isn’t complaining.

Deal manager Steve King feels his squad is prepared for a busy time ahead Picture: Paul Willmott
Deal manager Steve King feels his squad is prepared for a busy time ahead Picture: Paul Willmott

He said: “It is a concern but we have built a squad that we think is strong enough and provided we don’t get catastrophic injuries and suspensions we think we can cope with it.

“I would much prefer to have 10 league games left and I look at Glebe who we are competing with at the top of the table and they play every Saturday with no midweeks, which has to be a big advantage compared to us, where we are going to be playing Saturday-Tuesday-Thursday.

“We have got some squad depth but it is going to be an awful lot of games. I guess that is the price of being successful in different competitions and also having a grass pitch in one of the wettest winters ever!

“Ourselves and Hythe have really struggled, unfortunately. Most of the other coastal sides have got 3G.

“We have tried to build a squad and the boys love playing football. They are looking forward to it. I am having to rotate and manage the squad and I just hope it doesn’t cost us in the end, but I don’t think we can think like that, we just have to prepare for each game and keep on trying to be successful.”

Deal played the first of four successive away games at Erith Town on Tuesday night in the semi-final second leg of the Challenge Cup. Their run of away games ends with a trip to Lincoln United next Saturday in the FA Vase Quarter-Final.

King’s side were 2-1 up from the first leg against Erith but were beaten 4-2 last night, losing 5-4 on aggregate,

Wayne Hennessey had put Deal ahead before Erith quickly levelled and then went in front after the break. Jamie Kennedy equalised to make it 2-2 on the night but the hosts struck twice more to clinch a place in the final.

Busy Deal Town are on the road for their next three games Picture: Paul Willmott
Busy Deal Town are on the road for their next three games Picture: Paul Willmott

The Hoops face a Southern Counties East Premier Division match at VCD this Saturday before a midweek trip to Kennington on Tuesday.

It’s a schedule that’s going to be full-on for the rest of the season.

King said: “We have trained once since November, we have just been playing Saturday-midweek, and it is so difficult to train when a Saturday game is called off because there is nowhere you can book that late.

“We have lost two of the last three Saturdays, that is frustrating, but we are in a good position to have a go at promotion in the league, we are in the Quarter-Finals of the FA Vase and the second leg of a league cup Semi-Final as well. If you had offered me that in August and the biggest worry would be fixture congestion, I would have taken it.

“I am certainly not going to moan about it. I would much prefer this than being out of all the cups and having to win my last nine games to get into the play-offs.”

With little chance to train or prepare, King is grateful to have a team that know his ways inside out and a run of opponents he’s familiar with.

He said: “Thankfully I have worked in the SCEFL for a long time, we know most of the sides well, we have got all the preparation done when we played them first, but it is difficult, more mentally because you don’t get any recovery time.

“It is big game after big game, you can’t even enjoy the victories, there is another big one around the corner.

“The players are receptive, they pick up information quickly. A lot of them have played 150-200 games for me so they know the way we work.

“We can get most things across in team-talks and the benefit of video analysis and putting videos out on WhatsApp and things like that. We are still doing our research, doing our homework, but everything is squeezed into a tight schedule.”

Deal Town have had plenty of success so far this season Picture: Paul Willmott
Deal Town have had plenty of success so far this season Picture: Paul Willmott

There was disappointment that Saturday’s game was off - none more so than for the Lincoln United scout who had made his way to the Charles Ground for a chance to see their FA Vase opponents in person. The game was called off at around 2pm.

King said: “The pitch had passed an inspection in the morning but then about 1pm it absolutely came down.

“We had been on the pitch for two or three hours in the morning to try and get the game on, it was playable, the match referee was there at 10am to do the inspection but it couldn’t cope with the torrential rain that came down just before kick-off and that’s really frustrating.

“We have got a huge backlog of fixtures and unfortunately we can’t control the weather Gods.”

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