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Deal Town boss Steve King warns against FA Vase hangover as his promotion-chasing side return to league action at home to third-bottom Sutton Athletic

There cannot be an FA Vase hangover for promotion-chasing Deal, manager Steve King says.

The Hoops progressed to the Fourth Round thanks to a 2-0 win at Lingfield last weekend.

Henry Newcombe – kept a clean sheet in Deal’s weekend FA Vase victory. Picture: Paul Willmott
Henry Newcombe – kept a clean sheet in Deal’s weekend FA Vase victory. Picture: Paul Willmott

Deal host Sutton Athletic in the Southern Counties East Premier Division this Saturday as their focus switches back to league matters.

King said: “As much as we talk about the Vase, that’ll be parked for us now.

“We have got a huge month coming up.

“We just need to make sure that we don’t have an FA Vase hangover. We have to turn up at home on Saturday to try and pick up three points to keep ourselves in and around the play-off picture.”

Frontmen Aaron Millbank and Rory Smith were Deal’s scorers at Lingfield, despite the former also seeing a penalty saved.

“The word is probably that it was a ‘professional’ performance,” reflected King. “The pitch made it difficult.

Deal defender makes team-of-the-week

“I don’t think we played brilliantly but we won 2-0, kept a clean sheet, missed a penalty and so I can’t be too negative. From a purely footballing point of view, I thought we could have played better.

“But the Third Round of the FA Vase, going away in a potential banana skin, on a freezing cold day and on a difficult pitch, I was happy with what the boys did.”

Indeed, the work of the backline meant goalkeeper Henry Newcombe was limited to little action.

King said: “I thought the back four did well.

“Henry didn’t have much to do but he made one very important save at 2-0, just after we scored the second. It was his only real save of the game but it was a good one.

Rory Smith scored for Deal Town at Lingfield. Picture: Paul Willmott
Rory Smith scored for Deal Town at Lingfield. Picture: Paul Willmott

“Alex Green and Jack Penny both were outstanding. It was pleasing.

“But when we concede goals, we concede them as a team and, when we keep clean sheets, we keep them as a team.

“We haven’t kept enough clean sheets. We have been on a brilliant run but we’ve conceded too many goals, so the clean sheet was pleasing.”

While the Hoops have lost just twice in 18 matches in all competitions, Sutton Athletic are at the wrong-end of the table.

But King warned: “They’re a very strong side.

“Every side in SCEFL has got a danger that can hurt you - and Sutton is one of those. They’re one of the best footballing sides and they like to get the ball down.

“They have lost quite a lot of goals. But they are well coached, they will come to us to play and if we’re not at it they will beat us.

“It’s the same with all the sides in the bottom-half of the table.

“I’ve been around SCEFL long enough and that’s why I’ll never underestimate anybody. We’ll always do everything properly.”

Good form has moved Deal into the play-offs but King knows their hard work can quickly be undone if they start dropping points over the festive period.

He said: “I think one of the benefits we have as a club is I say to people that we’re a 40-game team and squad. We keep going consistently through the season. But now, we have to prove it again.

“I hate the first two months of the season. Everyone has got new players, pitches are nice, the weather is nice, everyone is excited and nobody is really out of it.

“So I find the first six to eight weeks of the season are really tough.

“I compare us to that racehorse that keeps running and running and running - and that’s what we have got to do.

“I enjoy November, December, January and February where you have got to keep grinding it out.

“That’s what we have got to do. Keep performing and getting the results.

“It might not always be pretty, it might not always look great, but I think that’s one of our strengths.

“If we’re going to be successful, we’re going to have to grind it out again.”

Deal saw their scheduled Challenge Cup clash at home to Division 1 Staplehurst get postponed as the referee deemed the pitch unplayable on Tuesday.

Midfielder Jack Hanson is their only fitness doubt.

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