Rangers hope to upset favourites

Tuncay Korkmaz
Tuncay Korkmaz

Deeping Rangers will kick off a key period by trying to force league leaders AFC Rushden & Diamonds into dropping points in the title race.

Tuncay Korkmaz’s side have their own ambitions of a top-eight finish this season.

But on Saturday they can also have a role over what happens higher up the table as Diamonds look to maintain their points advantage over Yaxley, Holbeach United and Wisbech Town.

Korkmaz said: “The next month is going to tell us if we can do better than a top-eight finish, settle for that or drop back.

“There are some tough games coming up and we will play more often than many other teams.

“On top of the league, we are still involved in two knockout competitions.

“Hopefully Saturday at home to Diamonds will be the start of another good run.

“We will approach this game in the same way by trying to play to our strengths.

“If we do that then we have a chance of nicking something off them.

“But we know they are the favourites for this game and also to get promotion.

“You can see the strength of their squad when they sign a prolific striker like Tommy Berwick.

“They must be coming here for three points but we don’t know any other way to play either. We won’t put 11 men behind the ball and settle for a draw.

“Against Diamonds we will need to take our chances in the final third.”

Meanwhile, Korkmaz has won January’s manager-of-the-month award in the ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division.

He said: “I will take this accolade on behalf of the dressing room and everyone behind the scenes.

“We have been through a period of transition but we always said we would be a top-eight side once we gelled.

“Now we need to make sure we get more wins to stay up there.”

Striker Adam Scotcher and defender Spencer Tinkler should be available again this weekend after serving three-match bans.

Korkmaz added: “Bad luck and bad decisions have been the most difficult aspect to deal with.

“We’ve had six red cards this season along with a few injuries.

“We have a small squad so for various reasons I don’t think I’ve been able to pick the same side for two successive games.”

On Wednesday night, Deeping made dramatic progress in the Hinchingbrooke Cup by winning a penalty shoot-out to book a last-four place.

Dan Flack put them ahead five minutes in but Micky Hyem levelled with a 28th-minute free-kick.

Matt Carter put Rangers back in front in the final minute of the first half.

Hyem equalised with another free-kick two minutes from full-time with Rangers defender Tom Palmer dismissed for the foul leading to the set-piece.

Jamie Graham’s first Rangers kick in the shoot-out was saved by Niall Conroy while Danny Bircham saved the third Goddy kick.

David Burton-Jones, Carter, Charlie Coulson, Joe Braithwaite and Flack all scored for Rangers with Tom Meechan, Tom Spark, Taylor Parr, Hyem and Tom Moran on target for Goddy to leave the shoot-out score at five apiece after six kicks.

Bircham saved the next Goddy effort from Austin Diaper enabling Ryan Oliver to convert the winning spot-kick.