Deeping Rangers get payback for Lincolnshire FA Senior Trophy loss to Holbeach United with league win
Two goals from Tom Garrick put Deeping Rangers right back in the title race after a hard-fought win over Holbeach United at the Haydon Witham Stadium.
Billed as the "clash of the UCL titans", the Clarets and Tigers showed full respect for each other's status at the promotion end of the Premier Division, especially with Holbeach arriving at Deeping top of the table after a 16-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
But Michael Goode's side were determined to settle the score after Holbeach knocked them out of the Lincolnshire FA Senior Trophy at the quarter-final stage in December when a man-of-the-match performance by ex-Claret Will Bird helped the Tigers through.
This time though, Deeping had a sharp weapon of their own to use in the returning Jordan Macleod, back after a short spell at AFC Rushden and Diamonds who signed the striker on the strength of netting 20 times in just 16 games for the Clarets.
Macleod was responsible for setting up Garrick with both goals, the opener coming in first half stoppage time when Deeping won possession from a Holbeach free kick and counter-attacked quickly, with Garrick in the right place to slot home Macleod's through-ball across the Tigers' six-yard box.
Before the goal, there were very few chances to speak of as the combination of a strong wind, sticky pitch and poor passing meant that quality football was scarce.
Holbeach goalkeeper Ricky Drury was almost undone by a long ball from Jack Gurney which Deeping's Scott Mooney nearly managed to help into the net, while David Burton-Jones had a header from a Gurney corner deflected behind.
At the other end, good hold-up play by Josh Ford was topped off with a short pass to Jonny Lockie who fired wide.
Deeping nearly went 2-0 up early in the second half when Gurney's crossfield pass landed at Macleod's feet to control and shoot straight at Holbeach keeper Drury.
Then Holbeach's best chance of the game so far came as a corner by Josh Ford was headed goalwards by captain Spencer Tinkler, only for Clarets' goalkeeper Josh Carpenter to produce an excellent save.
Carpenter was even better when tipping over a curling 20-yard free kick from Ford at a point in the game when the visitors were threatening to draw level.
But just after the hour-mark, Deeping had a two-goal cushion when Carpenter's long clearance was helped on by Macleod and with Tiger's keeper Drury out of his goal, Garrick had the simple task of collecting Macleod's pass and putting the ball into an empty net.
Both sides made substitutions in the last half-hour of the game before Holbeach managed to carve out one more chance to score when Adam Jackson and Spencer Tinkler linked up well to give Liam Adams a shot on goal, only for the Tigers' winger to fire wide of the target.
DEEPING RANGERS (4-4-2): Carpenter; Flack, Hunnings, Burton-Jones, Andersen; Macleod, Murphy, Coulson (sub Simpson 85 mins), Gurney (sub Curtis 87 mins); Mooney, Garrick.Subs not used: Carter, Nkala, Bircham.
HOLBEACH UNITED (4-4-2): Drury; Wilson, Fairweather, N. Jackson, Smith; Adams, Tinkler, A. Jackson, J. Smith (sub Oliver 77mins); Ford (sub Bird 65 mins), Lockie.Sub not used: Withers.
REFEREE: Ian Ruddock.
GOALS: Garrick (45 mins, 1-0, and 62 mins, 2-0).
BOOKINGS: Gurney, Adams, Lockie (fouls).
STAR MAN: Josh Carpenter - Protected the Clarets' goal with some solid saves, assured handling of crosses and sound decision-making which gave confidence to the defenders in front of him.
WHO'S NEXT? Boston Town (A) - Tuesday (for Deeping Rangers, UCL Premier Division); Loughborough University (H) - Saturday (for Holbeach United - Kitmanuk Knockout Cup semi-final).