FA Vase: Deeping Rangers 1 Heanor Town 2 (after extra-time)
They gave everything and went out with no regrets – but that wasn’t quite enough to keep the dream alive.
A goal 52 seconds into extra-time left Deeping Rangers to reflect on what might have been.
They deserved better and probably would have come out on top in every statistic – apart from the only one which really counts.
A slow start saw Rangers fall behind but after that they posed plenty of problems.
The equaliser came late but Heanor Town could have no complaints as Deeping had earned the chance to keep battling away.
However, despite a series of chances, it just wasn’t to be Deeping’s day in their third successive home tie.
The Lions of Derbyshire – pushing for promotion from the Toolstation Northern Counties East League Premier Division – knew they had been given a tough test.
Yet in the early exchanges it looked like it was going to be very comfortable.
The opening goal came on seven minutes when Kieran Wells smashed a 25-yard shot over keeper Daniel Bircham.
It was a rare moment when Wells was not caught offside as he found space behind Joe Braithwaite.
Deeping finally got going but they couldn’t create many clear-cut chances before half-time, althoughSpencer Tinkler nodded wide and Charlie Coulson forced a good save.
The second-half display was much better as Heanor number one Ian Deakin kept them in front.
When he was beaten on 70 minutes by Dan Flack, right-back Greg Marriott cleared off the line at the far post.
Braithwaite made amends for the misjudgement which led to the first goal when his far-post header made it 1-1 with just three minutes left – the defender scoring for the third successive game.
But at the start of extra-time Gary Ricketts headed home inside the six-yard box to restore Heanor’s lead.
Substitute Ben Lewis wasted a golden chance to get another equaliser inside the opening minute of the second period.
And with time running out Braithwaite fired wide from 10 yards.
He had been pushed up front with skipper David Burton-Jones in a last-gasp desperate bid to stay in the competition.
However, Deeping could not force a midweek replay as Heanor held on to remain on the long road to Wembley.
4-1-2-1-2: Bircham 7; Carter 7, Tinkler 7, Braithwaite 7, Smith 7; Burton-Jones 7; Flack 7, Avis 7 (sub Goldson-Williams 83 mins, 5); Coulson 8; Graham 7, Ward 6 (sub Lewis 75 mins, 5). Subs not used: Ginty, Thompson.
4-4-2: Deakin; Marriott, Henshaw, Hawes, Shaw; Jones (sub Andrews 54 mins), Hall (sub Gregory 101 mins), Strzyzewski, Debrouwer; Wells, Ricketts. Subs not used: Naylor, Grantham, Baker.
Wells (7 mins, 0-1); Braithwaite (87 mins, 1-1); Ricketts (91 mins, 1-2).
Lewis (foul); Andrews, Hall (dissent); Deakin, Ricketts (unsporting behaviour).
Charlie Coulson – one for the future, looks a real talent with creative play.
Newport Pagnell Town (H) – UCL Premier Division, Saturday.