Published: 05:00, 23 November 2021
| Updated: 08:20, 23 November 2021
Boss Derek Hares doesn't believe Deal's performance levels have drastically dropped despite back-to-back defeats.
The fifth-placed Hoops let a lead slip against 10 men as they lost 2-1 to Southern Combination Premier Division high-fliers Littlehampton in their FA Vase second-round tie on Saturday.
Southern Counties East Deal led following Ben Chapman’s effort and even had a man advantage after a Littlehampton player was shown a straight red card in the second half, only for Joe Benn to level for Littlehampton before Dave Herbert converted a penalty.
The defeat came after Deal had lost 2-1 to Hollands & Blair, now managed by Scott Porter, in their last league outing.
Deal's attention remains on cup action this week.
They host Canterbury City in the SCEFL Challenge Cup tonight and face Erith & Belvedere in the Kent Senior Trophy this Saturday.
Hares said: “We have not got a massive squad so there will not be loads of changes.
“These two cup competitions, we want to go as far as we possibly can in them. If we play well in them, we have got a good chance of winning them.
“The performances in the last two games have not been bad.
"It’s maybe just a lack of a bit of concentration, and things have just not quite gone for us. But it’s no good looking back."
“We want a good run in both cups," he added.
"Even if you do well in the Vase, realistically, you are probably not going to win it.
“But with these two cup competitions, we have a good chance of going all the way.”
The Hoops had looked in control in front of a 407-strong crowd at the Charles Sports Ground until the sending off of Littlehampton’s Jordan Clarke which seemed to spark the away team into life despite their numerical disadvantage.
Hares, who had few complaints over the award of the spot-kick in the 84th minute, stated: “To be honest, I thought it was a game we, probably, should have won but maybe we chucked it away in the last quarter of an hour.
“I thought we were the better side and probably should have won it. We missed a couple of chances and I’m not sure what happened towards the end - maybe we let our concentration go.
“So it was disappointing in the end. It was not a terrible performance or anything like that.
"We went 1-0 up and that looked like it would be enough. But they broke away for their first goal and then got the penalty.
"But you have to give credit to them because they kept fighting with 10 men. That is why they're near the top of their league."
Deal are still exceeding expectations this season, though.
“Overall we have got to be happy with how the season has gone so far,” Hares reflected.
“Obviously, it was disappointing on Saturday but we are still in two cups and we are in the top-six in the league.”