FOOTBALL: Cup destiny now out of Grammar’s hands

SPALDING GRAMMAR SCHOOL 2 OUNDLE 2: SPALDING’S LB Cup hopes are dangling by a thread after they surrendered a two-goal advantage.

Finalists last year, Grammar needed to win their last two group stage fixtures to be sure of qualification after losing their opener.

Goals from Timmy Magnus and Luke Glass put the Spalding youngsters in command at the interval, but they couldn’t hang on to secure the win they needed – meaning their destiny is now out of their hands.

Manager Dave Endersbee said: “Despite five absences from the squad, the team played superbly in the first half, and should have had the game sewn up.

“However, a lack of mental toughness let them down again in the second half, as we buckled under pressure.

“We now have to beat Kings Ely and hope for anything but a draw in the other fixture to stand a chance of qualifying for the knockout phase.”

It took just ten minutes for Spalding to deservedly take the lead. A free kick was partially headed clear by the Oundle defence, only for Magnus to delicately lift the ball over the keeper from the edge of the area.

Grammar continued to dominate, switching play between flanks to exploit Oundle’s 3-5-2 formation.

Lone striker and man-of-the-match Alex Lewis linked with the wingers and support striker Magnus superbly to create space in and around the Oundle area, but unfortunately a handful of half-chances were not converted.

It wasn’t long before a second goal was converted, though. Jack Bettinson’s cross from the right was missed by the Oundle defender, allowing left winger Luke Glass to pounce and finish calmly.

However, this match proved to be a classic ‘game of two halves’, with Oundle starting the second half with rejuvenated spirit.

They pressed Spalding well and didn’t allow the wide men the freedom they had enjoyed in the first half.

After a Grammar move broke down on the left, Oundle capitalised by crossing into the centre for their striker to lift the ball over James Gifford and pull one back.

Magnus had a chance to restore Spalding’s two-goal cushion, but the away side were now winning a large amount of free kicks.

Eventually, a long range set play floated towards a group of players in the box – but it missed everyone and was tipped agonisingly into his own net by keeper Gifford.

The last ten minutes passed with a frantic and panicked pace, but with very little event.

Spalding must now beat Kings Ely on Thursday and hope results go their way.