Delight outshines defeat as Tulips get UCL trophy

Spalding United captain Lewis Webb attacks a header against  Huntingdon United.  ''ANL-140419-190113001
Spalding United captain Lewis Webb attacks a header against Huntingdon United. ''ANL-140419-190113001
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Spalding United are now officially UCL Premier Division champions and they have the trophy, pennant and medals to prove it.

But if the Tulips plan to produce a season review DVD, they just might want to skip putting on it highlights of their 2-1 home defeat to Huntingdon Town on Saturday.

Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field was no place to see a blood and thunder league scrap because as manager Pat Rayment said after the match, “We played some good stuff today, but the league is won.”

For that reason, Spalding’s lack of urgency in the opening minutes was understandable and Huntingdon caught them cold after just three minutes when a headed clearance away from goal was volleyed straight in, low and hard, by Chris Jones as Tom Roberts stood helpless.

It took a few minutes for Rayment’s champions to clear their heads in which time the Croms could have extended their lead but for some last-ditch Spalding defending.

But it wasn’t all one-way traffic as Mark Jones should have equalised on ten minutes after wriggling free of his marker, only for the striker to shoot tamely at Croms keeper Ryan Rayner.

It took Jamie Thurlbourne to put the record, or should it be league table straight, on 21 minutes when the left back arrowed a 25-yard free kick through the wall and past Rayner.

At the other end, Declan Rogers fire narrowly wide for the visitors who were now restricted to long-range efforts and rare counter-attacks as Spalding threatened to take a stranglehold on the game.

Dan Cotton weaved through the Huntingdon defence but with the goal at his mercy, had to give second-best to a Rayner save with his legs.

The only action of note in the first half was a brief flashpoint after Jones was on the wrong end of a horror tackle by Croms midfielder Michael Hyem who was deservedly booked.

Tulips striker Josh Ford shoved the guilty Hyem in rage at the potential damage done to his teammate and both men were booked, with Jones himself having to go off 11 minutes before the break with possible knee ligament damage.

The title winners’ tidal wave of attacks continued in the second half when Spalding substitute Danny Hussey heading over from a corner before his afternoon was to get much worse with a red card.

Huntingdon’s winner came on 57 minutes when substitute Jacob Joyce headed in a left-wing cross which led to the eventual substitution through injury of Spalding keeper Tom Roberts.

Both sides ended the game with ten men, Hussey sent off for kicking out at a Croms player after a corner and Billy Oliver for a professional foul, pulling back Cotton as the last man.

The game petered out as Spalding accepted that Huntingdon would become the only team to do the double over them this season.

But to modify the words of the late, great “Voice of Sport” David Coleman, “who cares who’s second, it doesn’t matter.”

Spalding: Roberts (Duggan 62), Steadman, Watson, Stainfield, Thurlbourne, Beeson, Hall, Webb, Cotton, Ford (Stevens 90), Jones (Hussey 34).