Emirates FA Cup first qualifying round replay - Deeping Rangers 4 Leek Town 2
What a night!
From start to finish – apart from a brief spell during the second half – it was a superb effort by Deeping Rangers.
A first-minute goal gave them an advantage which they didn’t look like giving up until Leek Town delivered a double blow just past the hour mark.
With 10 minutes to go, Deeping were heading out – but somehow they found the energy to hit back again.
Scott Mooney’s second goal of the night – his ninth for the club – seemed to be sending the tie into extra-time.
Two minutes later Scott Coupland made it 3-2 and in stoppage-time Jezz Goldson-Williams completed a giant-killing act.
This was no more than Deeping deserved.
On Saturday, they came from 2-0 down at half-time to earn a second chance.
On Tuesday, they showed plenty of determination and quality to overcome the odds against higher-level opponents.
Billed as ‘the biggest game in their history’ – that might be going over the top – this was certainly an evening which will live long in the memory for anyone associated with Deeping.
At the heart of the team, skipper David Burton-Jones and man of the match Luke Avis produced inspirational performances which proved to be a key factor.
Burton-Jones was simply magnificent before the break and Avis kept running all night.
Summer signings Mooney and Coupland have brought plenty of goals already but once again this was a great all-round effort.
Deeping got off to a dream start with the opening goal on 57 seconds.
Jason Kilbride created the chance down the right wing and Mooney’s clinical finish found the far corner of the net.
Burton-Jones could not quite connect with Fraser Sturgess’ corner while a low shot by Kilbride failed to complete a flowing move.
Although Leek gradually gained more possession and territory, they offered very little in the final third.
Tim Grice – who grabbed a first-half double on Saturday – was off target this time along with Nathan Whitehead and Doug Price for the Blues.
Early in the second half, Deeping struggled to keep the ball but they still didn’t come under much pressure.
Then, all of a sudden, they were 2-1 down.
Dan Shelley levelled with a right-foot drive which left Daniel Bircham unsighted and stranded on his line.
Three minutes later, Leek went in front courtesy of substitute Ashley Jackson’s volley when he was given too much time on the edge of the penalty box.
Leek were starting to look stronger but Deeping finally got their rewards.
Dan Flack’s brilliant work down the right flank set up the equaliser as Mooney poked home from close range.
Unusually, Coupland had struggled to make an impact. Typically, though, he duly delivered by bursting into the box and calmly converting to make it 3-2.
Coupland had a penalty appeal rejected and Sturgess missed an absolute sitter – but that didn’t matter when Goldson-Williams lobbed in to spark wild celebrations.
Overall there could be no complaints from Leek who were play-off finalists last season in the Evo-Stik League First Division South.
On this form, Deeping should give a real test to AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the second qualifying round a week on Saturday as they aim for a fourth home win during this enthralling cup run.
4-4-1-1: Bircham 6; Flack 7, Hunnings 7, Tinkler 7, Smith 7; Kilbride 6 (sub Goldson-Williams 75 mins), Burton-Jones 7, Avis 8, Sturgess 7; Coupland 7; Mooney 7. Subs not used: Oliver, Marsden, Porter, Carter.
4-3-3: Martin; Bradbury, Askey, Strzyzewski, Johnson (sub Jackson 61 mins); Price, Danylyk (sub MacPherson 39 mins), Shelley; Cope, Whitehead, Grice (sub Grocott 86 mins). Subs not used: Maguire, Knight.
Mooney (57 secs, 1-0); Shelley (64 mins, 1-1); Jackson (67 mins, 1-2); Mooney (81 mins, 2-2); Coupland (83 mins, 3-2); Goldson-Williams (90 mins, 4-2).
Smith (persistent fouling); Goldson-Williams (over-celebrating).
Luke Avis – energetic display at heart of Rangers’ midfield.