Rousing Rangers bow out despite second half fightback
Deeping Rangers’ FA Cup exploits came to an end on Saturday despite a rousing second half performance against National League North big guns Kidderminster Harriers.
Michael Goode’s charges found themselves facing an uphill struggle as they conceded three goals in 10 first half minutes.
However, in front of a record crowd of 696 at the Haydon Whitham Stadium, Rangers rallied after the break and gave their former Football League visitors a real run for their money.
Goode was pleased with how his side responded after the interval and felt his players had given a good account of themselves against full-time opposition.
He said: “I can’t fault the work-rate of the team, but we should have been tighter in the first half and we let ourselves down a little bit. We gave away some simple goals.
“We gave everything in the second half though and the lads ran their socks off.
“We created a couple of good opportunities which we scored and then had another big one which could have changed the game.
“The boys were a credit to the club and they all enjoyed it. We gave a great account of ourselves in the second half and now we have to take that into our bread and better of the league, FA Vase and local cups.”
Harriers were the dominant force in the opening period and peppered the home goal in the opening exchanges with a flurry of shots.
Emmanuel Sonupe sent an early sighter wide before Fraser Horsfall headed over and then Andre Brown curled out an past the post.
Home goalkeeper Danny Bircham did well to tip away a cross-cum-shot from Sonupe before Tyrone Williams had a header safety gathered by the Deeping custodian.
Rangers suffered a setback midway through the opening period when influential playmaker Charlie Coulson was forced off through injury.
And, after Sam Austin and Sonupe had seen shots go astray, Harriers took a 34th minute lead as Brown finished with aplomb by thundering his shot into the top corner to break the deadlock.
Bircham made a brilliant save to turn over a fierce shot from Austin, but he was powerless to prevent Kidderminster extending their lead after 39 minutes when the impressive Sonupe latched onto a sublime through ball to finish.
A rash challenge from Charlie Ward then handed Harriers a penalty two minutes before half-time and Sonupe successfully converted the spot kick.
Deeping changed their formation after the break with Luke Hunnings being introduced into a three-man central defence.
And the rewards were reaped when they reduced the deficit eight minutes into the second half as Dan Schiavi’s inswinging corner evaded everyone and nestled in the Kidderminster net.
The visitors though soon restored their three-goal advantage as substitute Andre Wright rifled home their fourth goal after 69 minutes.
But Rangers responded again and eight minutes later top scorer Scott Mooney headed home at the back post after a good header from Ward.
The home side then had a great chance to set up an exciting finale as an opening fell for Scott Coupland but, with the goal at his mercy, he blazed over.
Kidderminster nearly made the most of the let off as Brown raced away down the left and scooped his effort against the home crossbar in the dying throes as Harriers saw out the remaining time despite being reduced to 10 men when Will Longbottom was forced off injured with the visitors having already used all of their substitutes.
Harriers manager John Eustace was delighted to have progressed against what he felt was a potential banana skin.
He said: “I was very proud of the performance because we had to show great character and win the game against a very good team, I couldn’t be any more pleased.
“It was a big test. Deeping have been on a great run and our form has been very up and down so, for them to put in a professional performance like they did, I was very proud of them.”
Deeping: Bircham, Flack (Simpson), Smith, Burton-Jones, Ward, Clay, Kilbride (Hunnings), Coulson (Dunn), Mooney, Coupland, Schiavi. Not used: Marsden, Hockin, Waumsley, Avis.