DERBY DAY: Coupland's cracker earns another win for Deeping Rangers
At least there could be no complaints over the result.
Derby day at the Haydon Whitham Stadium was filled with petty arguments all over the pitch.
The night produced more fouls and yellow cards than clear-cut chances in front of goal.
But there is no doubt that Deeping Rangers deserved to extend their unbeaten run to 18 league games, moving up to second spot.
Fifth-placed Holbeach United simply couldn’t get going until it was far too late.
There was only enough time for the Clarets to kick off following substitute Dan Dougill’s stoppage-time goal which can’t even be described as any real consolation.
The Tigers were second best as soon as Scott Mooney pounced from close range.
Scott Coupland doubled the lead and there was never any sign of a fightback.
Deeping were brilliant in the first half – much better than boss Michael Goode’s verdict of playing “quite well”.
After the break, they just had to manage the game and stay in complete control. Why bother getting out of second gear?
Holbeach were hopeless at times, offering absolutely nothing to a contest which had promised so much.
It took them 79 minutes to force a save from Richard Stainsby.
At the other end, Deeping didn’t need to do more as two first-half strikes had effectively won the game.
The first goal conceded by Holbeach under Seb Hayes’ management came on eight minutes.
Charlie Coulson combined cleverly again with Jason Kilbride, providing space for Dan Schiavi. A low shot was pushed out by Rick Drury’s left hand but Mooney slid in to convert.
Coulson’s foul on Aaron Eyett led to the first booking and he was forced off due to a twisted knee in making that challenge.
Substitute Henry Dunn’s talent and energy meant Deeping were unlikely to be badly affected by such an early change.
And so it proved with a terrific goal which started as Dunn fed the ball from the left flank, Mooney played a nice dummy and Coupland raced on to smash a drive into the bottom corner of the net.
Coupland has now scored 15 times since a stoppage-time leveller from the penalty spot at Carter’s Park at the start of November.
More importantly, putting Rangers 2-0 up ensured they could safely negotiate the second half of this fixture which was brought forward from Christmas Eve.
More fouls made it scrappy until Holbeach finally woke up as Hayes brought on all three substitues, changing the system to 3-4-3 in a rather desperate attempt to snatch something from what had been a poor performance.
Schiavi wasted a golden chance when 3-0 would have been a fairer reflection than the final scoreline.
Kilbride’s low effort was gathered and Stainsby held onto Zak Munton’s header.
At the end, Josh Ford’s 20-yard free-kick was pushed out and Dougill claimed the final touch.
It was too little, too late for the Tigers – leaving Hayes with plenty to consider after two wins and two clean sheets in his previous games.
Deeping surely won’t be making the same mistakes as the first few months of 2016 when a decent start to the season turned into a terrible run of results.
4-4-2: Stainsby 6; Flack 7, Hunnings 7, Clay 8, Smith 7; Kilbride 7 (sub Bird 81 mins), Coulson 7 (sub Dunn 20 mins, 7), Burton-Jones 7, Schiavi 7; Coupland 7 (sub D Zalejski 88 mins), Mooney 7. Subs not used: N Zalejski, Marsden.
4-3-3: Drury 6; Walton 5 (sub Cartwright 71 mins, Tinkler 5, Jackson 5, Shepherd 5 (sub Dougill 73 mins); Pinner 5, Madigan 5 (sub Ward 71 mins), Warfield 5; Ford 5, Munton 5, Eyett 6. Sub not used: Davies.
Mooney (8 mins, 1-0); Coupland (37 mins, 2-0); Dougill (90 mins, 2-1).
Coulson, Pinner, Ford, Flack (fouls); Schiavi (kicking ball away).
Jonny Clay – commanding display at heart of defence, won key battles to leave Ford frustrated.
Boxing Day (3pm) – Harrowby v Deeping, Holbeach v Wisbech.