MATCH VERDICT: Point made by Deeping Rangers
Yet again Deeping Rangers were left to reflect on what might have been – and that’s arguably the story of their season.
If only they could have put in more performances like this and picked up more points.
Instead of challenging at the top of the table, they are very much under-achieving in ninth place.
Four points against league leaders Leicester Nirvana and Saturday’s stalemate at home to title rivals AFC Kempston Rovers are evidence of what Deeping are capable of doing.
But they have dropped too many points carelessly.
One league win in 11 games since late January – when they also knocked Kempston out of the Hinchingbrooke Cup – is clearly not good enough.
Rangers play the right way to entertain and create lots of chances while Scott Mooney and Scott Coupland have been prolific in front of goal.
However, there is no doubt that Deeping should have done much better in 2016.
They deserved to record a draw against Kempston who duly dropped two points off the pace set by Nirvana.
After Will Bird’s opener was cancelled out by Josh Crawley 14 minutes later, the hopes of a home victory were replaced by the desire to hold on under pressure.
Overall, though, Deeping matched the Walnut Boys all over the pitch.
Manager Michael Goode’s tactical switch allowed Bird, Coupland and Henry Dunn to give support for Mooney.
They found space, linked up nicely into the final third but far too often the last touch was not quite right.
Passes went fractionally in front of a team-mate and at times the wrong decisions were made when a long-range strike probably would have been a better option than trying a clever through-ball.
A bright start promised a positive performance as Dunn was denied, Mooney fired over and Coupland couldn’t quite finish off a mazy run.
Former Spalding United keeper Alex Pycock marked his debut with a double save from Alex Stoyles.
Kempston captain Martin Conway pulled off a superb stop to push out Coupland’s drive early in the second half.
Bird came close moments later but he found the net as stand-in skipper Dan Flack’s free-kick fell very kindly.
Pycock held onto a low effort from ex-Holbeach United winger Ash Fuller and then tipped Shane Bush’s attempt onto a post.
Michael Lyon wasted a golden chance but substitute Crawley made it 1-1 with a left-foot finish from 10 yards.
Robbie Goodman’s header was deflected over but Bush twice missed the target and Josh Winters also failed to convert an opportunity.
In the end, Deeping were happy to hold on to a point.
4-2-3-1: Pycock 7; Flack 7, Hunnings 7, Clay 7, Marsden 7; Hibbitt 7, Avis 8; Coupland 7, Dunn 7, Bird 7; Mooney 7. Subs not used: Smith, Palmer, Garmory.
AFC KEMPSTON ROVERS
4-4-2: Conway; Lyon (sub Guiney 75 mins), Goodman, Stoyles, Ridgway; Marsala (sub Winters 62 mins), Macrae (sub Crawley 60 mins), Simpson, Fuller; Ivy, Bush. Subs not used: Shepherd, Knox.
Bird (57 mins, 1-0); Crawley (71 mins, 1-1).
Goodman, Ridgway, Hibbitt, Fuller (fouls).
Luke Avis – always seemed to be in the right place at the right time to break up play, regain possession and get Deeping on the attack. He had a key role in providing plenty of protection for Rangers’ back four.
Peterborough Northern Star (H) – Hinchingbrooke Cup semi-final, Tuesday.