Deeping’s unbeaten home run is ended as title hopes are dented by old boy Sparrow
Deeping Rangers suffered their first home league defeat for more than a year after a 1-0 reversal in Friday night’s table-topping tussle with United Counties Premier Division leaders Yaxley.
A solitary strike from ex-Deeping player Matt Sparrow was enough to give the visitors the edge and open up a four-point lead at the summit.
Deeping are now nine points behind the Cuckoos, but do have four games in hand after a performance in a front of a crowd of 225 that disappointed boss Michael Goode.
Goode said: “We were beaten by the better side. We have to hold our hands up and admit that we were not good enough on the night.
“Yaxley set their stall out in the first half. They were much brighter than us and could have scored two or three goals.
“I was very disappointed. We didn’t make the right decisions and didn’t compete well enough and you have pay Yaxley the compliment that they played well.
“We had an off day and just didn’t produce. We were not at the levels that we needed to be to beat a top of the league side.”
The Cuckoos came flying out of the traps and had a ‘goal’ disallowed inside the opening two minutes when Phil Stebbing was flagged offside after heading home a Dan Cotton cross.
Scott Coupland screwed a shot wide for the hosts before Dan Bircham in the home goal made a speculative stop to tip away a goalbound free-kick from Cotton.
Cotton then spurned a gilt-edged opening after a sublime pass from Jack Saunders released the prolific Yaxley marksman but, with just Bircham to beat, he shot tamely wide.
However, the goal that Yaxley had been threatening arrived after 13 minutes when Sparrow, who was a constant thorn in Deeping’s side all evening, cut in from the right and rounded off a fine run with a tidy finish into the bottom corner.
Rangers responded with Cuckoos custodian Olly Sutton fumbling a Jason Kilbride shot around the post before excelling with a fine tip-over to keep out a dipping shot from Sam Hollis.
Luke Hunnings then sent a header wide as Yaxley comfortably saw out the half with their initiative still intact.
Deeping upped the ante after the break, but Hunnings and David Burton-Jones had to be alert to block a Cotton shot another fine burst from Sparrow.
Hunnings headed another over from a corner while Scott Mooney diverted an effort wide from a Kilbride cross.
The Clarets became more desperate for an equaliser as time wore and, although they went close when both Hollis and Kilbride just failed to connect with dangerous crosses into the box, it was Yaxley who looked the more dangerous going forward on the break.
They nearly added a second in injury-time but Bircham produced a super stop to turn away a goalbound effort from Cuckoos substitute Tom Waumsley as Yaxley finished the game, just as they had started, on the front foot.
Deeping will now need to regroup for the remaining 11 league matches of the campaign to keep their title hopes alive after an uncharacteristic below-par performance.
Deeping: Bircham, Flack, Hollist (Conyard), Burton-Jones (Coulson), Hunnings, Clay, Kilbride, Dunn, Mooney (Coulson), Coupland, Hollis. Not used: Marsden, Stainsby,