Deeping Rangers’ FA Cup dream comes to an end against Diamonds
In the end reality caught up with Deeping Rangers in the FA Cup second qualifying round on Saturday when they were beaten 3-0 at home by AFC Rushden & Diamonds.
A record-breaking crowd of 635 came to the Haydon Whitham Stadium to see the end of a remarkable run in the cup.
Those supporting Deeping Rangers wanted to keep the dreams alive with a fourth successive win in the FA Cup this season.
But it wasn’t to be and the wait goes on for history to be rewritten as Deeping have never gone beyond this stage of the competition.
Having knocked out Step Four sides Dereham Town and Leek Town, there seemed to be a real chance of another giant-killing act.
Instead, the record still belongs to AFC Rushden & Diamonds who duly extended their unbeaten run to 31 competitive games.
Last season’s UCL Premier Division champions made progress without too many concerns.
They were very close to falling behind when Fraser Sturgess saw a left-foot shot flash wide of the far post.
But the opening attempt on target put Diamonds ahead on 20 minutes.
They took full advantage of a rare mistake by right-back Dan Flack who tried to cut out a pass just inside his own half but allowed Courtney Herbert to race free down the wing for the assist.
Substitute Scott Joseph – who had only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes following a knee injury to Claudiu Hoban – produced a clinical finish into the far corner of the net.
Danny Bircham was given no chance but he went on to produce a stunning double save from Sam Brown and Brad Harris.
Immediately Deeping went on the counter-attack as Luke Avis saw an effort tipped away by Matt Finlay. From Sturgess’ corner, Jason Kilbride – facing his parent club under dual registration – sent a header wide when he should have done much better.
The key moment came as Deeping threatened to get back on level terms.
Two minutes before the break Joseph’s drive was deflected inadvertently into the path of Tom Lorraine who fired past Bircham.
It was a big blow, although Deeping would not give up – particularly as they came from 2-0 down at Leek and then trailed 10 minutes from the end of the replay.
In Saturday’s second half, however, they never looked likely of producing another fightback.
It was effectively all over on the hour mark as Tommy Berwick slotted home.
Quigley’s header came off the top of the crossbar and Deeping finished with 10 men as substitute Matt Porter suffered a cut eye.
The dream died but the cup run was a great effort.
Deeping Rangers: Bircham; Flack, Hunnings, Tinkler, Smith (sub Cotton 74 mins); Kilbride (sub Porter 74 mins), Burton-Jones, Avis, Sturgess (sub Goldson-Williams 69 mins); Coupland; Mooney. Subs not used: Marsden, Oliver.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds: Finlay; Wilkinson, Gordon, Dolman, Brown; Herbert (sub Butt 64 mins), Quigley, Harris, Hoban (sub Joseph 18 mins); Lorraine, Berwick (sub Bunting 71 mins). Subs not used: Vitue, Platt, Spriggs.