Football: Cool-hand Luke doubles up for well-deserved victory over Deal

Pam Mills

TWO GOALS from Luke Hackett sealed a valuable win for Tunbridge Wells against a -determined Deal side in the Southern Counties East Football League.

With the injury-affected home side having picked up three points with their last match, there was a buoyancy about the squad before kick-off.

However, it was as Deal who found their rhythm first and tested Wells’ keeper Steve Lawrence on several occasions in the opening exchanges.

Their breakthrough came from Joe Anderson, who made the most of some slack defending. He decisively headed home a well-flighted free-kick from outside the area after 17 minutes to give the away side the lead.

With the rain lashing down, Wells attempted to respond with some strong link-up play between the influential Ryan Crandley, who was returning from injury, and the team’s newly acquired striker Charlie Cornford.

But Deal still looked the most likely to score the next goal. Just before half-time, Wells’ hard–working keeper Lawrence scrambled a shot off the line to prevent the deficit from doubling.

In the second period, Wells played with far -greater confidence and evened up the scores through Hackett, who headed home a corner served up by Brad Large.

The team now sensed the game was there for the taking, with Deal offering few attacks to trouble a defence that had earlier seemed indecisive.

With around 20 minutes to play, Hackett gained the winning goal from a set-piece. He found space inside the penalty area and seized on a free-kick from 30 yards out to find the back of the net and claim the three points.

Jason Bourne believes the win offers a strong platform on which to build with cup fixtures and a challenging league match at Lordswood to come.

He said: “For the first half Deal dominated, but we came back in the second and we deserved the win as we took our chances when they came.

“We have been working hard in training and with Luke Hackett, we knew that if we were able to get balls forward to him, he would do well.

“As a team, we are nearly back to full strength now. With Ryan Crandley having been out for a while, we wanted to give him 60 minutes today, so that was a good sign for us.

“Tommy Bryant, who has also been out with injury, was also on the bench for us.”

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