It wasn’t pretty – but that doesn’t really matter. Deeping Rangers secured a fourth successive win – their best run so far this season – and secured a place in the FA Vase second round after beating Wivenhoe Town 1-0 at home on Saturday.
Rangers remain on the very long road to Wembley thanks to a late winner by centre-half Joe Braithwaite.
Fittingly it was one of the Rangers’ defenders who made the difference and it was no surprise that the deadlock was broken at a set-piece.
Braithwaite’s far-post volley came on 75 minutes as Scott Ginty’s free-kick was flicked on by Deeping skipper David Burton-Jones.
And that proved enough to see off Wivenhoe Town who rarely looked likely to pose any problems.
Daniel Bircham collected a few crosses but he didn’t have a save to make.
He was well protected by Deeping’s defence and anyone in the back four would have been a worthy winner of the man-of-the-match award.
Right-back Dan Flack was selected as the star man and that was mainly due to his forward runs in the second half.
Braithwaite and Spencer Tinkler were solid against Wivenhoe captain Ben Parkin who barely got a touch as the lone striker.
Left-back Tom Smith also deserves credit on a day when the result was much better than the overall display from Deeping.
Burton-Jones and Ginty kept battling away in midfield but generally Rangers could have done more.
But they didn’t need to hit form against the Dragons from Essex who are struggling towards the bottom of the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League’s Premier Division.
Deeping Rangers boss Tuncay Korkmaz accepted there is room of improvement after a fourth successive win.
He highlighted another clean sheet but in an honest assessment, Korkmaz admitted the result was much better than his side’s performance at the Haydon Whitham Stadium.
He said: “That was the poorest we have played over the last five or six weeks.
“You can expect to have one bad game out of four or five.
“Defensively we were solid and that’s testament to the lads in keeping a second successive clean sheet.
“It’s always nice to win any game but we know there are things to improve.
“We will address those issues but overall there is no doubt we deserved to win.
“We still created chances against a poor side who are low in confidence.
“We needed an early goal to get into the ascendancy and because we couldn’t do that, it became a patchy game.
“It’s a shame we couldn’t get more goals to finish the game off and make it easier at the end.
“There are positives and a few things to work on as well.”
Wivenhoe created the first real chance when right-back Andy Schofield went on a run and fired too high.
However, they could have no complaints after another defeat.
Deeping’s best moments came around the half-hour mark as Jordan Avis and Smith forced saves while in between Burton-Jones sent a header off target.
Jezz Goldson-Williams should have done better with a couple of efforts before the break but Deeping slowly got on top.
They eventually took the lead and the tie should have been put beyond any doubt with further opportunities.
Burton-Jones’ header was tipped over the bar and then substitute Charlie Coulson somehow failed to convert a golden chance from the edge of the six-yard box.
Wivenhoe keeper Peter Haxell was sent forward for a stoppage-time corner but even that failed to produce any drama as Deeping held on to win without playing that well.
Deeping Rangers: Bircham; Flack, Tinkler, Braithwaite, Smith; Burton-Jones, Logan 5 (sub Ward 45,), Carter; Ginty; Goldson-Williams (sub Graham 62 mins), Avis (sub Coulson 72 mins). Sub not used: Holland.
Wivenhow Town: Haxell; A Schofield, Dennis, C Rogers, T Rogers; Ayten (sub Griffin 72 mins), Marley Spindler, Nydam (sub M Schofield 81 mins), Marcus Spindler (sub Maina 61 mins); Whitby; Parkin.