MATCH VERDICT: Point made by Deeping Rangers
One point each was fair enough in this top-of-the-table tussle.
Scott Mooney’s second-half equaliser earned a draw for Deeping Rangers to cancel out Leicester Nirvana skipper Matt Melbourne’s opener.
Top scorer Scott Coupland wasted a hat-trick of clear-cut chances as Deeping dropped from third place.
However, they remain on course for a revised target of a top-four finish in Michael Goode’s first season.
The manager’s pre-match interview suggested Deeping would be capable of creating as many opportunities as the league leaders.
That proved to be the case but this time Coupland wasn’t clinical in front of goal.
Mooney again showed his quality, though, as Rangers became only the fourth team to come away from Gleneagles Avenue with some reward this term.
The centre-forward took a touch to create a little bit of extra space inside the penalty box on 57 minutes and then he hit a right-foot drive into the far corner.
It was a wonderful effort, giving keeper James Flinders no chance.
Having beaten Nirvana at home just before Christmas, there was a real feeling that Rangers could complete the double.
Instead they were forced into some last-gasp defensive work during the final stages to hold onto the point.
With more defeats than wins on the road and no clean sheets in 2016, Deeping had a point to prove against thedivision’s top scorers.
Unfortunately, the heavy pitch meant that the teams offered more enterprise than entertainment.
Deeping matched Nirvana all afternoon as they halted a run of seven successive home wins dating back to October.
The best move of the game brought the first chance as David Burton-Jones regained possession, Henry Dunn and Chris Hibbitt combined then a one-two with Mooney set up Coupland – only for Flinders to push the shot wide.
Reece Morris and Tendai Chitiza threatened before Nirvana exposed space down Deeping’s left for Pearson Mwanyongo to deliver a far-post tap-in for Melbourne.
Burton-Jones forced a save but Coupland was off target twice with golden chances when he should have done better.
Hibbitt made a goalline clearance after keeper Danny Bircham dropped a cross but near-post saves from Ash Day and Chitiza kept Rangers on level terms.
Deeping got what they deserved and it could have been even better.
But they should be happy with a result which shows Rangers belong to stay up there as one of the division’s top teams.
3-5-2: Flinders; Walker, Phillips, O’Neil-Brooks; Mwanyongo, Gonga (sub Day 68 mins), Calver, Biggs (sub Parkes 85 mins), Morris; Melbourne, Chitiza. Subs not used: Doy, Nelson, Juma.
4-4-2: Bircham 7; Flack 7, Hunnings 7, Tinkler 7, Smith 7; Avis 7, Hibbitt 7 (sub Hood 74 mins), Burton-Jones 7, Dunn 7; Mooney 8, Coupland 6 (sub Goldson-Williams 83 mins). Sub not used: Bird.
Melbourne (18 mins, 1-0); Mooney (57 mins, 1-1).
Smith, Walker (fouls); Hibbitt (re-entered pitch without referee’s permission).
Scott Mooney – led the line well.
Eynesbury Rovers (H) – Saturday.
More by this authorMark Lea