MATCH VERDICT: Routine win for Deeping Rangers
Deeping Rangers showed few ill-effects from their unplanned 11-day lay-off from match action with a one-sided win over lowly Kirby Muxloe.
There was no need for the home side to change up to anything higher than second gear in what was largely a defensively-led win.
However, there were some signs of rustiness from Michael Goode’s side as passes from midfield continually went astray which, against stronger opponents than Muxloe, could have caused problems.
Rangers should have been ahead early in the game when Scott Coupland latched onto a loose ball and rounded Muxloe keeper James Flinders, only to put too much pace on his square ball across goal which flashed past Dan Schiavi at the right-hand post.
There was a long wait for the next piece of goalmouth action when Rangers keeper Richard Stainsby was called upon to block an angled drive from Muxloe winger Jordan Lever who had cut in from the right to shoot on goal.
Fortunately for Rangers, the rebound was bicycle kicked over the bar by Kirby midfielder Tyler Love.
Just before half-time, Deeping’s outstanding left-back Tom Smith hit a perfectly-weighted clearance to Coupland but his efforts to set up a scoring chance were denied by a smothering save from Flinders.
But with the last kick of the first half, Deeping went ahead when Scott Mooney was bundled over by left-back Kane Brown.
Coupland made no mistake from the penalty spot with a low, hard drive past Flinders.
The second half was delayed by 20 minutes after one of the assistant referees suffered a hamstring injury.
But when the action finally got going, Rangers appeared briefly to be back to the free-flowing form than saw them put four goals past Yaxley two weeks ago.
Nevertheless, Stainsby almost gifted an equaliser to the visitors when a seemingly routine collect from Jordan Holmes’ right-wing cross somehow managed to squirm onto the post and back into the Rangers keeper’s hands.
That was as close as Muxloe got to a goal as Schiavi doubled Deeping’s lead with a free-kick from 20 yards which beat Flinders comprehensively.
Another Coupland penalty after Charlie Coulson was tripped in the box by Love made it 3-0 before substitute Will Bird should have done better than fire straight at Flinders from 18 yards.
But Bird made amends just before the end when he was pulled back by central defender Wade Ball and Coupland despatched the penalty with authority.
It was almost 5-0 to Deeping with the last kick of the match when an unmarked Coupland smelled a scoring chance, only for him to blaze over from 15 yards out.
But by then, Rangers were safely home.
4-3-3: Stainsby 7; Flack 8, Hunnings 8, Clay 8, Smith 9; Kilbride 5 (sub Dunn 48 mins, 6), Burton-Jones 6 (sub N Zalejski 76 mins), Coulson 6 (sub Bird 69 mins); Mooney 7, Coupland 6, Schiavi 7. Subs not used: D Zalejski, Bircham.
4-4-2: Flinders; Frey, Doy, Ball, Brown; Holmes, Love, Bernstein, Lever; Cary, Sheahan. Sub not used: Will.
Coupland pen (45 mins, 1-0); Schiavi (62 mins, 2-0); Coupland pen (68 mins, 3-0); Coupland pen (88 mins, 4-0).
Bird, Ball (fouls); Brown (dissent).
Tom Smith - defensively solid throughout.