SPALDING UNITED 1 DEEPING RANGERS 0: Miles Chamberlain bundled home a controversial derby winner on Tuesday night to keep Spalding in the UCL Premier Division title hunt.
The defender was credited with the only goal on 21 minutes at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field, but South Lincolnshire rivals Deeping felt that keeper James Doughty was fouled – and also questioned if the ball had actually gone over the line.
It was the flashpoint of a very tight derby duel, which the Tulips just about edged. The win sends Pat Rayment’s side within five points of the summit – although they are expected to be docked three points and fined for an administrative error that saw them field an unregistered player earlier in the season.
On the game, Rayment said: “I don’t think it was a foul and the ball went over the line, so there’s no controversy as far as I’m concerned.
“We limited Deeping to little or no chances and kept a clean sheet, so I’m happy. The second half was poor, but we’ve not played in nearly three weeks, so that’s understandable.”
Rangers player/boss Tuncay Korkmaz disagreed with the Tulips’ chief, claiming the officials used guesswork to award the vital goal. The Turkish tactician said: “Did we deserve to win? No. Did they? No. They were better in the first half, as were we in the second.
“The goal changed the game. The officials had to guess what happened. Our keeper has been hit three times on the head before the ball went ‘in’ – and to be honest he’s not even sure if it crossed the line. It wasn’t the best day for the referee.”
Spalding settled much the better in the opening stages, with Dan Cotton rifling an early effort just over.
Then came the goal, which looked incredibly harsh on the visitors. It was more rugby than football, with keeper Doughty – who was booked for his protests – bundled over the line by Tulips defender Chamberlain.
Spalding did have chances to extend their lead before the break, but TJ Nightingale headed wide and Chris Hall sent a 25-yard piledriver just the wrong side of the post.
Chamberlain had a header cleared off the line in the second half as the hosts looked to put the game to bed, but it was Deeping who had two great chances to snatch a share of the spoils.
Harry Deane probably should’ve scored with a close-range volley that was blocked, while Dave Burton-Jones saw a header kicked off the line by home debutant Josh Freeman.
They couldn’t find a leveller though, as Spalding avenged their 2-0 Outgang Road reverse.
Tulips: Drury, Canoville, Freeman, Chamberlain, Fuff, Kennedy, Steadman, Hall, Battersby (Joyce 76), Nightingale (Hussey 90), Cotton.
Deeping: Doughty, Lambley, Jackson, Tinkler, Julian, C Holt, Deane, Burton-Jones, Beck, Stevens (Heron 70), Stone (Stebbing 80).
• Attendance: 144.