A rare moment of quality from Matt Sparrow settled the big game in the United Counties Premier Division tonight (March 9) in favour of leaders Yaxley.
Sparrow’s sublime finish on 13 minutes after he’d robbed left-back Chris Hollist on the edge of his own area strengthened Yaxley’s position at the head of affairs, while inflicting a first home defeat for rivals Deeping Rangers since March 4, 2017.
It was a just reward for the Cuckoos who were excellent on the ball in the first-half and defended strongly after the break when the Outgang Road pitch inevitably cut up on a night of driving rain in Deeping.
Indeed, although Deeping saw a lot of the ball in the second-half, Yaxley looked just as likely to score on the break. Sparrow and Dan Cotton were a different level in possession for the visitors, while skipper Ross Watson marshalled his defence so well, the hosts didn’t create a worthwhile opportunity until the 91st minute when lovely skills from substitute Charlie Coulson gave Jason Kilbride a headed opportunity he spurned.
The best football arrived early in the game and it was delivered exclusively by Yaxley. Phil Stebbing’s header from Cotton’s super cross travelled into the net through goalkeeper Dan Bircham’s legs, but an offside flag spoiled the celebrations early and Bircham reacted well to tip a Cotton free kick over the crossbar.
Cotton then missed a sitter after a terrific through ball from Jack Saunders had sent him racing clear, but within two minutes Sparrow struck to keep Yaxley in pole position, although there are challengers queuing up to knock Cuckoos off their perch.
Yaxley are four points clear, but have played more games than all of their rivals. Deeping did have the title in their hands before this game, but now, remarkably, fifth-placed Holbeach will win the league if they win all their remaining matches.
But as the Tigers still have second-placed Newport Pagnell and third-placed Wisbech to play, there will be plenty more twists and and turns to come in the next six weeks. Heavy rain will threaten some games tomorrow (March 10) when Pagnell are at Sleaford, Wisbech visit Daventry and Holbeach are at Cogenhoe.
Deeping: Danny Bircham, Dan Flack, Chris Hollist, Luke Hunnings, Jonny Clay, David Burton-Jones, Henry Dunn, Jason Kilbride, Sam Hollis, Scott Mooney, Scott Coupland. Subs used: Charlie Coulson, Rob Conyard, Michael Simpson.
Yaxley: Olly Sutton, John-Paul Duncliffe, Josh Pike, Sam Spencer, Ross Watson, Joe Butterworth, Liam Hook, Jack Saunders, Matt Sparrow, Dan Cotton, Phil Stebbing. Subs used: Tom Waumsley, Kyle Nolan.
Goal: Yaxley - Sparrow (13 mins).
Referee: Lee Hartley.