Luke Avis curled in a dramatic stoppage-time free-kick as Deeping Rangers inflicted a third defeat of the season on league leaders Leicester Nirvana.
Rangers were looking to match last season’s successful result over Nirvana but tey got off to a terrible start by conceding in the first minute.
Hesitation in the Deeping defence saw the ball fall to Mahmoud Juma on the edge of the box whose blast sailed past the stranded Danny Bircham.
In hindsight this was a blessing for the home side who then had to fight their way back into the game and the response was good.
Dan Flack’s cross was met by Luke Hunnings whose header was straight at James Flinders in the Nirvana goal.
The home side levelled on 13 minutes as Henry Dunn’s through-ball split the visiting defence to set Scott Coupland into the box where he rounded Flinders and a defender to slide the ball into the unguarded net.
Play became to and fro, Nirvana’s Reece Morris had a snapshot over the bar and the home crowd were celebrating David Burton-Jones finishing Coupland’s far-post pass only to see the assistant’s flag raised.
Bircham was called on to thwart another effort when Morris collected from Pearson Mwanyongo and drove to the near post where the Rangers number one saved at full stretch, tipping Matt Melbourne’s shot onto the post and away to safety.
Deeping’s Scott Mooney touched Coupland’s corner into the path of Spencer Tinkler who skied his shot while Avis then tried from 25 yards that Flinders took comfortably.
Nirvana’s livewire Morris collected on the edge of the box and twisted somne space to shoot that needed Bircham to get down to smartly.
Rangers were quickly on the offensive for the second half.
Dunn won the ball on the byline and played in Mooney whose shot was parried by Flinders with the ball falling for the arriving Will Bird to strike from a yard out - only to see the ball hit a defender and rebound off the bar and away.
Avis won well and advanced to release Coupland who in turn set Bird free out wide but his cross was over the bar.
Nirvana substitute Celson Patricinio’s good cross was met by Melbourne whose header brought a flying save from Bircham.
Deeping’s Scotts combined as Mooney laid off for Coupland to test Flinders while Coupland’s good play then presented Dunn the chance to shoot but he was off target.
Dunn almost turned provider when his pull-back towards Mooney was just nicked by the retreating defender, Coupland’s clever play allowed Dunn to run at the full-back and shoot that had Flinders scrambling the ball away.
Nirvana’s Ash Day curled a 25-yard free-kick that beat the bar to find the roof of the net.
Flinders produced a top-drawer save when Burton-Jones fed Mooney, his shot on the turn was destined for the top corner before a flying save tipped the ball away.
But Rangers were not to be denied and Mooney’s touch set Burton-Jones alone in the box, his second touch flew past the stranded Flinders to give the home side the lead on 85 minutes.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Rangers’ man of the match Tom Smith marred his performance when he was adjudged to have fouled Matt Melbourne whose confident penalty gave Bircham no chance as he levelled on 89 minutes.
With time deep into additional time Deeping substitute Olly Humphrey was sent clattering by Sean Doy’s challenge that earned him a second yellow card.
Avis took the inswinging kick, Tinkler went for the flick in front of Flinders and the defender and all missed contact with the ball finding its way into the net.
This was one of the best games seen at The Haydon Whitham Stadium this season and few in the crowd could argue that Rangers did not deserve it – what a turn around after the very poor start!
Rangers return to action at Boston Town on Bank Holiday Monday.
Deeping: Bircham, Flack, Smith, Burton-Jones, Tinkler, Hunnings, Dunn, Avis, Mooney, Coupland, Bird (sub Humphrey 59 mins). Subs not used: Cotton, Goldson-Williams, Lewis, Marsden.