So in today’s #learnwithites I discovered Deal is a town much like ours in that it’s famed for its great comedians, Comedy beefcake Charles “ Greystoke” Hawtrey lived there for many years in “ Middle St”, surprising really as most would assume he’d prefer spending his time in Bottom rather than middle. Another great comic Norman Wisdom lived in a children’s home there until he ran away at the age of 11 after allegations of abuse, he was later to join the BBC where any such allegations were taken with a pinch of salt laced with the slight smell of Rohypnol and sherbet dip.
So onto the game, our intrepid heroes came into this off a two game unbeaten streak against a well placed Deal team.
Sheppey were much weakened, the Colonel out along with the front two of Remmell, still minus his mums goat curry as promised and Bradshaw who now with one game less only needs another 23 goals from his last 7 games to equal the promised 40 goal tally.
On the bench we welcomed back George who had just finished a 12 game ban for amassing more cards than Moonpig plus two lads who didn’t look old or tall enough to get served a MacFlurry let alone a beer.
The game started as most have lately, Sheppey slow out the traps, Deal who certainly looked a capable side took the game to the home side from the off, big Johnno and Ralphy doing well to keep them at bay with Josh in goal being kept busy. When the Ites did get the ball invariably the final pass went astray, Bradshaw as always making the runs but not getting found, tiny Cox again providing the trickery but sadly nothing seemed to be working and then the pivotal moment came, a loose pass in the midfield, a simple pass sent their forward clear, he rounded Josh who unceremoniously clattered him, penalty. 1-0. Groundhog Day. This proved to jumpstart the Ites, Cooper started to find space on the wing, Captain Batten started dictating the game more, suddenly Deal looked in trouble.
A cross from the right found the captain in space on the edge of a six yard box, he rose like Jesus at Easter and like Andy Carroll powered a header into the net 1-1. The rest of the half seemed to be all Sheppey, neat precise passing had Deal chasing shadows without carving any openings.
Second half Sheppey started well straight off, the tempo noticeably quicker. First The Shrewsbury shifter had a half chance to add to his 27 but passed it up, the dry spell has now lasted longer than Mother Theresa’s, Timmy and cooper both getting behind the Deal defence but failing to deliver the killer ball and then it happened again, like the French army we shot ourselves in the foot, Deal get a rare attack the balls comes in the area, we don’t clear it the ball comes to their centre forward 8 yards out who gobbles it up like a fat kid in the cake shop. 1-2.
Another uphill struggle ensued, Sheppey pushing on relentlessly, the Deal keeper pulling off a few smart saves, a succession of corner kicks, one met by Bradshaw 6 yards out a point blank save from the keeper. In a last roll of the dice on comes young Bates from the youth team, after a few nervous minutes he grew into the game, from the edge of the box his shot took a wicked deflection the keeper through a leg out and somehow deflected it over the bar, this was going to take something special to drag this back, deep into injury time after our 47th corner up comes the goalie, corner 48 comes In Josh gets his head to it and bullets it into the roof of the net just as the fat lady was clearing her throat. 2-2. Josh, somewhat delighted threw himself into the crowd, the ref reached for his yellow but luckily Hiccham pointed out that goals like that are rare and another yellow would have been a red thus missing the final. Common sense prevailed and the game ended all square.
As in a good few games we had to go 1-0 Down before playing, not ideal but the way we turned the game round showed character as did the way we nearly threw it away again, but cometh the hour etc and 2-2 seemed a fairly respectable score.
MOM – For me Darren Cooper who has started games in the more forward position of late, good left foot and an eye for a pass.