MATCH VERDICT: Return to winning ways for Deeping Rangers
It wasn’t pretty – but that really didn’t matter this time.
After two months without a league win, the result was much more important than the performance for Deeping Rangers.
A first clean sheet in 2016 was a big bonus, ensuring that Will Bird’s second-half strike was worth three points.
Deeping had only claimed three away draws in seven Premier Division games since the 4-2 home victory against Peterborough Northern Star in late January.
The target of a top-four finish turned into plenty of frustration as Deeping dropped down the table.
So the visit of relegation-threatened Oadby Town was an ideal opportunity to end that dismal spell.
The Poachers had beaten Deeping at home in August but a fourth successive defeat on Saturday leaves them in the bottom two.
Following the departure of manager Lee Harriman in midweek, the Leicestershire side appointed joint interim bosses.
Earlier in the season and in better conditions, Deeping surely would have collected a more comfortable victory.
A strong wind meant it was almost impossible to get the ball down and play the right way as Deeping are capable of doing very well.
For long periods they had no service to Scott Coupland and then he was continually caught offside in the second half.
However, when Coupland found himself in space on the edge of the penalty box, he got an assist.
His left-foot drive was only pushed out by Elliott Taylor into the path of Bird who fired the rebound into the roof of the net.
With five minutes to go Bird came close to doubling his tally and wrapping up the home win.
His shot took a deflection and bounced off the crossbar with Taylor beaten.
In stoppage-time Taylor kicked out Coupland’s angled attempt but otherwise there were very few clear chances.
Early on Dan Flack, David Burton-Jones and Coupland had all missed the target.
Scott Mooney and Bird also failed to test Taylor before the break.
Ollie Brown-Hill hit the outside of the near post and he was also denied by Tom Smith’s last-gasp tackle.
Daniel Bircham made a challenge to keep out Josh Burniston but, at the heart of Deeping’s defence, Jonny Clay and Spencer Tinkler had a solid partnership to provide protection.
Burton-Jones and Mooney also showed experience along with plenty of effort to help Rangers’ return to winning ways.
There is no doubt that they can perform much better and create chances but this was all about picking up the points.
4-4-2: Bircham 6; Flack 6, Clay 7, Tinkler 7, Smith 6; Dunn 6, Avis 6, Burton-Jones 7, Bird 6; Mooney 7, Coupland 6. Subs not used: Hibbitt, Marsden, Pycock.
4-5-1: Taylor; Black, Wakeling, Guest, Hollist; Parker (sub Hobart 69 mins), Brown-Wingfield, Henton, Nurniston, Gill (sub Philip 30 mins); Brown-Hill.
Bird (52 mins, 1-0).
Jonny Clay – marked his home debut with a key role in Deeping’s first clean sheet of 2016 alongside Spencer Tinkler.
Yaxley (A) – Saturday.