SPALDING UNITED 4 NEWPORT PAGNELL TOWN 0: Only a memorable individual performance from keeper Martin McIntyre denied on-song Spalding a landslide victory on Saturday.
The table-topping Tulips cruised to a 4-0 victory over visitors Pagnell at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field, making it 19 wins from 20 UCL Premier Division games.
Sam Mullarkey (10 and 75), Lewis Webb (31) and the free-scoring Andrew Tidswell (33) all netted to provide the Tulips with plenty of festive cheer.
But it could have been even more for the runaway leaders, with the woodwork rattled twice and keeper McIntyre in truly inspired form.
The Pagnell number one pulled off a string of top stops, including a memorable point-blank save to deny Mark Jones what would have been a well- deserved goal.
Tulips chief Pat Rayment said: “It could have been 10-0, couldn’t it? We gave Mark Jones a bit of stick about that miss – although it was some save by their keeper.
“Pagnell are always a physical side and they put in one or two nasty tackles.
“But overall it was very comfortable for us and we rack up yet another clean sheet. I’d be interested to see how good our record stacks up against other sides – to concede just six goals in 20 league games is incredible stuff.
“We’re now entering a decisive period. With Deeping next and the likes of Huntingdon, Rushden and Diamonds and Cogenhoe to come in January, it’ll be interesting to see where we are in a month.”
After a quiet start, the Tulips burst into life on ten minutes when a classy piece of ball juggling from Tidswell outside of the box released Mullarkey, who drilled a low effort into the net from ten yards.
Tidswell, playing in midfield, then flashed a volley wide from the edge of the box as the hosts seized control.
With Pagnell slowly going into their shell, it was no surprise when Spalding doubled their money on the half-hour.
Industrious play on the left from Mullarkey set up Webb on the far side of the box – and he angled a powerful low effort into the far corner.
Two minutes later it was 3-0 – and effectively game over – when Tidswell curled home a classy finish from just outside of the box to make it 34 goals for the season.
Rayment’s side were now creating chances at will, with Jones sliding an effort wide after a lovely Adam Jackson pass and Dan Cotton working McIntyre with a fine strike.
It was the first of a number of top stops from the Pagnell number one. Next came a stunning double-save from the keeper, who denied Mullarkey at his near post, then somehow kept out a Jamie Stevens effort from the resulting corner.
The one-way traffic relented briefly as the visitors crafted a decent chance, but Matt Broomes screwed horribly wide when clean through.
At the other end, the luckless Jones lashed a screamer off the near post following some nifty footwork on the edge of the 18 yard box.
That man Jones then raced clear, but saw his fierce low drive kept out by the legs of McIntyre – who then picked himself up to keep out Mullarkey’s follow-up.
Stevens crashed a header off the bar from the resulting corner, before McIntyre kept out a low Tidswell effort at full stretch. Amazingly, the visiting keeper then denied Jones from six yards atfer a square Tidswell pass left him with what looked like an empty net.
He did, however, allow a Mullarkey effort to squirm through his legs in the 75th minute as Spalding rounded off the rout.
Tulips: Duggan, Bore, Jackson, Stainfield (Fairweather 46), Stevens, Webb, Cotton (Beeson 67), Tidswell, Mullarkey, Jones, Thurlbourne. Not used: Hussey, Roberts.