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Deeping Rangers share the spoils with Gresley Rovers in the United Counties League Premier Division North

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Clarets boss Daniel French piled the praise on his depleted Deeping side as they held high-flying Gresley Rovers to a draw on Saturday.

Rangers became the first side to return home with a point from the Moat Ground this season after Rovers had recorded seven successive victories on their own turf.

Will Bird's first half goal had given the initiative to a Clarets side who were without the sidelined quintet of David Burton-Jones, Robbie Ellis, Jones De Sousa, Jake Showler and Luke Steele as well as the suspended Matt Carter.

Will Bird. (53073276)
Will Bird. (53073276)

Steve Hart - the top scorer in the United Counties League Premier Division North - did bring Gresley level after the break.

But it was Rangers who had created the better chances in a contest where they struck the crossbar three times as they put a couple of indifferent performances behind them against their second-placed hosts.

Boss French said: "It was our best performance of the season without a shadow of doubt, especially off the back of two defeats and Gresley having beaten Anstey in midweek.

"We had six players missing but the lads were absolutely brilliant. It wasn't a place to come and hide and worry about who wasn't playing as the lads pulled together and realised what they had to do.

"We worked really hard again and there was massive progression when we had the ball from the last couple of games.

"It was the best we have been with the ball, even from the performances against the likes of Long Eaton, Heanor and Sleaford, because the more you have it means the less defending you have to do, especially against the top sides."

Bird had fired an early effort wide before he put Rangers ahead after 24 minutes of the contest when he latched onto a through ball and slotted home past the advancing Lewis Fenney.

Luke Hunnings then came close to doubling the lead with a header that hit the crossbar before Rangers struck the upright twice in quick succession after the break.

Jake Brown - who formed part of an impressive attacking quartet including Dan Banister, Bird and Charlie Coulson - was the first to send his curling shot against the crossbar after cutting in from the right with Coulson hitting the underside of it with a superb volley from the rebound.

Jake Brown. (53073271)
Jake Brown. (53073271)

Substitute Ta'i Williams then blasted wide before Gresley equalised after 68 minutes following a goalmouth scramble which was turned home by Hart.

Rangers responded with Banister volleying over before Clarets custodian Dan Swan helped preserve a point with a superb save.

Swan produced a brilliant reaction stop to deny Izak Reid as the Clarets claimed an excellent away point.

French added: "We would have 100 per-cent taken a 1-1 draw away at Gresley before the game but the lads were gutted afterwards that we hadn't won the game.

"It's a good point on paper but we definitely deserved more.

"It was the best we've been for a 90 minute duration and it shows that when we're at it and playing to our strengths that we can compete with anybody in this league.

"We just have to find that consistency now because it's no good doing it against the top three and then doing what we did in the defeats against Skegness and Newark."

Clarets: Swan, Flack, Smith, Bloodworth, Hunnings (Fielding), Walton, Banister, Coulson (Williams), Bird, Wilson, Brown. Not used: Stainsby.

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