Six Matches Unbeaten as City Draw with Deal
By Kevin Olver
Two one-all derby draws on the trot as City go into next week's FA Vase tie
Canterbury City 1 Deal Town 1
Another draw for City but it does extend their unbeaten run to six matches as they head into their historic last thirty-two FA Vase tie next Sunday (against Newport Pagnell, 6th Jan ko 14.00 - see you there!).
A hard fought duel could have gone either way and although City held the lead for some time, ultimately Deal probably maybe might have done just enough to deserve their equaliser and a share of the spoils.
City started the brighter although the first serious strike on goal came from Deal when Sam Wilson bore down on the City goal from the right and attempted to lift the ball over keeper Jack Delo but he spread himself well and clawed it away to safety from close range to prevent an early opening goal.
Ollie Lee saw a shot from distance fly just wide of the Deal goal and he then was just inches away from getting on the end of a Kyron Lightfoot ball into the box following a lovely move of one-touch football from the hosts. Lightfoot then himself almost got on the end of another decent move while a ball into the box was just too high for Josh Froggatt. City were playing well, knocking the ball around with some confidence and had their opponents pinned back.
Eventually however the visitors began to get themselves free of the City shackles as Gary Sayer blocked a goalbound shot and a corner for the visitors saw Wilson glance a header wide of the City goal. A distance effort from Lightfoot was easy fare for Deal keeper James Tomkins, while former City favourite Dave Pilcher volleyed over the bar for his new team and then a trademark Pilcher free-kick was swung into the City box but headed off target.
City responded well when Dean Grant broke and laid the ball off for Adam Woollcott who arriving at pace arrowed a fierce shot across goal and past the angle, while a Lightfoot ball fell to Leroy Hlabi but he couldn't quite get it under control and despite his and Grant's best efforts neither could get a telling touch and Deal managed to scramble the ball clear. City retained possession though and another Lightfoot ball flew agonisingly across the face of the goal just out of the reach of both Grant and Froggatt.
On thirty-two minutes, City took a deserved lead when some dogged persistence down by the right corner flag by Froggatt won his side a throw and eventually saw him manage to guide the ball across to Lightfoot who turned in an attempt to make some space, then beat a couple of challenges before finding some room and rifling a low shot across the keeper and into the bottom corner of the net for 1-0.
City kept up the pressure and Grant saw his effort well blocked by Tomkins at his near post while a delicious ball in from a Lightfoot free-kick eluded everyone but just needing a touch to divert it home. The hosts then saw two corners fail to produce an opening, while a Woollcott cross was scooped out from under his bar by a back-tracking Tomkins, who then did well to take down a Sayer shot aiming for the top corner.
An entertaining first-half soon ended with City on top and in the lead.
Deal were quick out of the blocks after the break and another Pilcher free-kick was right into the zone and after a bit of a scramble, the ball was cleared out of the area where it was immediately struck back in before taking a big deflection and flying just over the City bar. City hit back on the break, but were thwarted when Tomkins raced out of his goal to clear, Lee then headed wide from a corner and a terrific Lightfoot aerial volley saw Tomkins smartly beat the ball out as it looked to be flying into the top corner.
Grant then fired wide via a deflection, while moments later he latched onto a long ball forward, raced into the area but was denied by a great blocking save from Tomkins. Meanwhile, Deal were now adding some urgency into their game and the play opened up as Laurence Harvey struck a shot over the Deal bar, while Grant saw his shot deflected out for a corner from which Harvey headed wide.
Deal substitute Andy Miller saw his shot safely taken by Delo before City were indebted to Liam Quinn for two brave, under pressure, defensive clearing headers. A brace of quick corners produced just a header well wide for Deal, while at the other end, Tomkins tried but failed to play his way out of trouble outside the box and got away with it only because of some very generous refereeing in his favour!
On seventy-eight minutes, Deal levelled when a flowing move down the right ended with the ball being whipped in and after what looked like a double deflection, Lee Scott was on hand to divert the ball home for 1-1.
A frantic last few minutes saw City go closest to try to snatch the three points. Grant saw his low ball in carelessly spilled by Tomkins but no-one in a City shirt was anywhere near enough to capitalise allowing Deal to clear, while the same player then saw a shot across goal curl away from the far post. In the last minute of the ninety, Rob Lawrence hoisted a ball into the box which Grant headed back across goal for Harvey to head just over and in stoppage time, a dangerous ball in from Michael Turner was well snaffled by Tomkins coming through a crowd of players to claim it.
A goal and a point apiece, but all eyes are now on next weeks Vase game.
Final score: Canterbury City 1 Deal Town 1
City: Jack Delo, Michael Turner, Gary Sayer, Laurence Harvey, Liam Quinn, Ollie Lee (Danny Lawrence), Kyron Lightfoot (Rob Lawrence), Adam Woollcott, Leroy Hlabi (James Turner), Dean Grant, Josh Froggatt
Unused Subs: Dan Keyte, James Nurden.