Deeping Rangers take on Spalding United at Outgang Road this evening, aiming to cut the gap behind the third-placed side to two points.
Fourth-placed Rangers are in the middle a testing run of games against the top sides with the Spalding fixture hot on the heels of Saturday’s draw at United Counties League leaders St Ives Town.
St Ives made all the early running in the opening stages of a pulsating game at a sun-drenched Westwood Road but it was Rangers who finished the game looking the most likely to take the points.
Rangers took the game straight to their hosts with Scott Ginty heading into the hands of the keeper from a Matt Heron cross after just five minutes.
St Ives, re-grouping after the sale of Conor Washington to Conference side Newport County during the week, countered when Rangers goalkeeper James Doughty was forced to tip over the cross bar from a Karl Gibbs effort.
It was ‘ding-dong’ stuff with Rangers’ defence weathering the storm and Ginty again testing the keeper, this time from long range.
Doughty was in terrific form, constantly thwarting St Ives’ speedy forwards, and it was a relief for Rangers when the referee blew the half time whistle.
The second period opened in explosive fashion with three bookings and a goal all within the first five minutes.
First Rangers’ David Burton-Jones had his name taken for a foul on the mercurial David Cobb, and then Jimmy Dean was perhaps fortunate not to see red for a foot raised tackle on Chris Logan. Cobb seemed intent on arguing the point with the referee who added his name to the book.
It had not been a dirty game and fortunately after this little flurry of bookings the game settled back into the pattern of the first half.
After fifty minutes the ever-dangerous Ricky Miller latched onto the ball outside the penalty area, powered through the visiting defence and blasted the ball past Doughty.
At this point it seemed as if the home side, and league leaders, would go on to take all three points, but the goal seemed to inspire Rangers’ into greater efforts and when Burton-Jones rose to power a header in to level the scores from a Brader corner, the play swung in favour of the visitors.
In the closing stages Rangers created numerous half chances, the best was a mix-up between Alex Beck and Matt Heron when both were clear through, and a stunning save from Conroy from heron.
Apart from the opening few minutes of the second half the game was played at a furious pace and in a good spirit throughout. Kevin Brader, in particular, had an excellent game for Rangers and was treated to a hearty round of applause from the crowd when he was substituted late on for Dan Evans.
Deeping Rangers: Doughty, Tinkler, Jackson, Logan, Ashton, Holt, Ginty (Lambley), Burton-Jones, Beck, Heron, Brader (Evans). Subs not used: Julian, Waumsley.
Kick off at Outgang Road this evening is at 7.45pm.