The magic of the FA Cup can’t stop a desire to win the league

Johnny Clay in action for Deeping Rangers against Kidderminster last season.
Johnny Clay in action for Deeping Rangers against Kidderminster last season.
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The start of the FA Cup provokes mixed emotions for Deeping Rangers boss Michael Goode.

Deeping host local United Counties Premier Division rivals Holbeach United in a juicy extra preliminary round tie tomorrow (August 11, 3pm) with memories of last season’s club record run to the second qualifying round fresh in the minds.

Action from Deeping Rangers v Kidderminster in the FA Cup.

Action from Deeping Rangers v Kidderminster in the FA Cup.

Deeping made a tidy financial sum from the greatest knockout cup competition of them all before they went down 4-2 at home to Kidderminster Harriers in a tie streamed live on the BBC website. There’s a plum preliminary round tie on offer to the winners against the well-supported AFC Rushden & Diamonds club.

But FA Cup progress did’t help Deeping’s Premier Division title ambitions last season. Playing catch-up with their fixtures caught up with them in the second half of a strong campaign.

“Of course we will set out to beat Holbeach,” Goode announced. “It should be a great game between two strong sides in front of a decent crowd. I’d be disappointed if we didn’t get more than 200 there.

“We had a great time in the competition last season, but it did us no favours in the league. At one point towards the end of the season we were 11 points behind (eventual champions) Yaxley with four games in hand, but that’s a big gap to make up when you’re forced to play three times a week.

“The FA Cup is a great competition, but the league will always be our priority.”

Deeping have won both Premier Division matches so far, 1-0 at Sleaford and 2-1 last weekend at home to Wellingborough.

“We haven’t played as well as we can yet,” Goode added. “But we’ve been clinical enough to beat two teams who have improved greatly on last season.

“It looks like being another competitive Premier Division and Holbeach are setting their stall out to win it so tomorrow will be a big test.”

Former Deeping players Johnny Clay and Tom Smith return to the Hayden Whitham Stadium with Holbeach on Saturday.

The small matter of a £2,250 winner’s prize awaits all teams competing in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup.

The Football Association have bumped up the prize money for this season’s competition and several local clubs are involved in the first matches this weekend.

Local Evo Stik League clubs Wisbech and Yaxley travel to lower level opposition in Cogenhoe and Swaffham respectively in their extra preliminary round matches tomorrow when Peterborough Northern Star go to Histon and Pinchbeck play their first ever FA Cup tie at Rothwell Corinthians.

Pinchbeck beat Rothwell 2-1 in their first United Counties League Premier Division match last weekend.

FIXTURES

Sayurday, August 11

FA CUP

Extra Preliminary Round: Cogenhoe Utd v Wisbech Town, Deeping Rangers v Holbeach United, Histon v Peterborough Northern Star, Rothwell Corinthians v Pinchbeck United, Swaffham Town v Yaxley.

FUTURE LIONS UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE

Division One: Blackstones v Aylestone Park, Bourne Town v Lutterworth Athletic, Huntingdon Tow v Melton Town.

THURLOW NUNN EASTERN LEAGUE Division One North: March Town v Needham Market Res, Wisbech St Mary v Debenham LC.