CROWS ON THE LATE, LATE SHOW AGAIN.
Late goals from Barton and Pearson seal the Crows first three points of the season.
As the final whistle blew you were left thinking that some of the Crow's players must have been playing Monopoly with the family before turning up for this game and nicked the "get out of jail" card as they left. Not that it really should have got to become such a late show in truth but the Crows were rather profligate in front of goal and had to live on the nerves and dig deep as the final whistle was imminent.
Over the 90+5 minutes there's no doubt the Crows deserved the three points and should have been out of sight of the visitors long before the end of the game however, some good defensive work by the Deal Town defenders, some excellent saves by their goalkeeper Tonkin and some weak efforts when well placed from Crow players meant that the Crow supporters had to bite their nails throughout the match.
Deal arrived at the Gallagher with a poor disciplinary record from their two FA Cup games against Corinthians, having had Walsh and Reeves sent off in the first game which finished 2-2, as well as three yellow cards and in the replay, which they won 4-1, they had two more yellows and a further red, goalkeeper Tonkin seeing the dreaded red this time.
With suspensions kicking in after seven days now rather than fourteen as it was previously, Walsh and Reeves had to miss the match and many Crow fans wished as the game went on that Tonkin had got sent off on the Saturday rather than the Tuesday as he was the difference between a hiding for the visitors or the nervous finish we had to endure.
Deal were competitive and resilient from the start and set their stall out to defend deep, hit on the break and if they can get their noses in front, all well and good and that's exactly what happened in the 7th minute, Milson with a neat finish after the Crows failed to cut a cross out from their right hand side and the ball fell to him some eight yards out, so 1-0 to Deal and the Crows knew they were in a battle now.
For the rest of the half, with Ellis largely being a spectator, his only work was to keep asking the question "how many more chances do we need to score", even if they weren't quite the words he used, the Crows pounded away at the Deal goal. However, the ball just wouldn't go in the net with Attwood, Carrington, Connolly, Barton Phipp and Turner all going close with efforts that were either blocked by defenders or well saved by Tonkin.
Therefore, half time was reached with the Crows 1-0 down and I did tweet that perhaps they deserved their lead, the effort and commitment they put in to preserve their lead was immense and after all, there's a skill in the art of defending properly.
If the possession in the first 45 minutes was 75/25 in the Crows favour, the second half was 90/10 to the Crows as they pushed the visitors further and further back towards their own goal. Again chances game and went, Crabb had a curling shot from the edge of the area hit the post, Attwood, Carrington, Connolly, Turner, Tear, Muggeridge, Pearson and others, all had efforts which went wide, over the bar, blocked on the line or well saved as the half went on. Deal only had a couple of efforts from distance which were easy saves for Ellis to make.
Carrington received a yellow card in the first half for a tackle and perhaps was a bit fortunate not to get a second one in the 50th minute when he couldn't reach a cross near the Deal goal and deliberately handled the ball. The Deal players definitely thought so but Carrington may feel he had been pushed as he jumped for the ball, referee Indyk decided to do nothing in the end. Turner then saw yellow in the 54th minute for dissent, an avoidable booking in truth as it puts the player under pressure whenever he tackles or jumps for a ball, something a centre half has to do constantly.
In the 68th minute, Carrington was replaced by Pring in an effort to put some fresh legs on the pitch as the chances came and went and the score still at 1-0 to the visitors. Pearson then replaced Danny Ellis
in the 77th minute before Mici came on for Connolly in the 84th minute.
In the end a deserved equaliser arrived in the 89th minute, a Muggeridge corner headed in by Barton from six yards out, at last we all sighed, Tonkin beaten at last and we've salvaged a point. However, the players never thought the same as the fans and they went in search of the winner.
With time running out a Crabb corner found Pearson in the centre of the goal, three yards out, and a deft right foot flick saw the ball enter the back of the net and it was 2-1 to the Crows. The look of incredulation on the faces of all the Deal players was very evident as they knew all their hard defensive work had meant nothing in the end.
The final whistle blew in the 90+5th minute and the points stayed with the Crows. Overall, it wasn't a great performance football wise from the Crows, too many long balls at times, the passing wasn't as crisp and incisive as it normally is but a win is a win as they say and if you can pick up the points, dominate the game throughout when not playing that well, then you'll win more games than you'll lose.
So, now it's on to play away at AFC Croydon Athletic on Tuesday night for a 7:45pm kick off and hopefully, a further three points will come our way before we play away at Hollands & Blair on Saturday in the FA Cup.