ST IVES slim promotion hopes were effectively ended when they were crushed by league leaders Deeping Rangers at Westwood Road. Ricky Dear's 25-yard strike after two minutes looked like the start of an Ives attack, but six minutes later the visitors took the lead. Ryan Semple drove a low cross across the goal forcing Robin MacKney to save and Dan Newman to clear from the line, and David Burton-Jones toe poked Rangers into the lead from the corner. The hosts wasted a glorious chance to equalise 10 minutes later when a Liam Kennett cross was met by Mark Coulson who saw his header tipped on to the bar by Danny Bircham for a corner. Deeping struck again as Ives were pushing for an equaliser, with Semple's 18-yard strike doubling their advantage. The hosts were again denied by Bircham minutes before half time as Tim Quay's header was well saved. Rangers defended their lead well in the second half as Mark Coulson and Liam Kennett were denied any chance of recovery. Things got worse for the hosts after 82 minutes when Semple broke free to slot past MacKney for his second to secure the points with an embarrassing score line for the hosts. St Ives title hopes look over after the match leaves them 17 points behind the leaders with six games in hand over them. Though they still can go top of the table by winning all of those games, they have lost their last two after a 10 game unbeaten run to leave their title aspirations in tatters. St Ives co-manager Jez Hall said: "It was a flattering scoreline for them. They looked more dangerous in attack but we were much the same all over the pitch apart from that. We started slow and let them ahead and that's a disappointing trait that we seem to be showing now. "After the break we were camped in their half but they defended really well. The damage had already been done in the first half and though we got unlucky with hitting the bar and their keeper making some great saves they were very quick on the break and that worked for them. "We just needed a little bit of luck and a little bit more quality in front of goal. We want to get as high as we can in the league but our priority right now is to get some silverware. We're still in four cup competitions and it can still be a happy season. "The squad has done us proud so far this season but we're down to the bare bones now and the results are showing that. We don't want them to end with nothing and now we must stick together and go on another run, especially when things are going against us." St Ives Town next play Long Buckby tomorrow (Tuesday) before they take on Holbeach United at Westwood Road on Saturday.