FOOTBALL: Pat salutes his Spalding record breakers

GOLDEN GOAL: Mark Jones (above) buries Spalding's only goal on Saturday ' a header that secured the Tulips a place in UCL Premier Divsion history, while (below) Nathan Stainfield again showed his dominance in the air. Photos byr NIKKI GRIFFIN
GOLDEN GOAL: Mark Jones (above) buries Spalding's only goal on Saturday ' a header that secured the Tulips a place in UCL Premier Divsion history, while (below) Nathan Stainfield again showed his dominance in the air. Photos byr NIKKI GRIFFIN

SPALDING UNITED 1 WELLINGBOROUGH TOWN 0: Unstoppable Spalding United set an incredible new UCL Premier Division record start of 17 wins from as many games on Saturday.

Mark Jones’s 65th-minute header was enough to see off a physical Wellingborough side at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field and keeps the Tulips seven points clear at the top.

But all of the pre-match talk was about Spalding bettering Long Buckby’s 16-match winning streak – and they duly delivered.

No team in the United Counties League had ever won their first 17 matches of the season, but few will now bet against the Tulips extending their new record even further.

Delighted boss Pat Rayment paid tribute to his players – and backed them to remain unbeaten all season.

He said: “All of the accolades must go to the players. We may set up the team, but when they cross that white line it’s all about them.

“They deserve all of the credit that is coming their way and breaking records is obviously great.

“I’ve mentioned it before, but I do think winning every league game is too tall an order. But I wouldn’t bet against us going all season unbeaten, that’s certainly possible.

“We’ve still got a few people knocking us, though. To them I say this: you’re all boring. Concentrate on your club and leave us to ours.

“We’ve beaten every team that has been put in front of us, so bring on Deeping Rangers, bring on Rushden and Diamonds. We’ll relish those games against the ‘bigger’ sides.

“Wellingborough did well on Saturday. They deserve great credit.”

It was far from the most straightforward of Spalding’s league wins this season, however. Indeed, the first half was pretty tame, but the hosts had much the better of it.

Midfield ace Chris Hall almost scored a top individual goal early on after dancing past a few players and firing straight at Jamie Brassington, while Jones twice saw efforts saved in the early exchanges.

That man Jones also rifled a fine half-volley wide of the post in the first period, before a Peter Bore cross bounced onto the bar and over.

There was more Spalding pressure in the early stages of the second period too, with Tidswell rounding Brassington and seeing a shot kicked off the line and Jamie Thurlbourne blasting an effort straight down the throat of the former Tulips number one.

At the other end, Jamie Wright’s over-hit cross bounced over via the woodwork – but in truth Wellingborough rarely troubled Michael Duggan.

But, when the usually lethal Tidswell angled a one-on-one effort wide of the post on the hour, you began to wonder if the Tulips would ever score.

Rayment’s side rarely fail to deliver though – and they grabbed the all-important opener on 65 minutes. Leading scorer Tidswell ran the defence ragged on the left and delivered a stunning cross for Jones, who made no mistake with his header from six yards.

The Doughboys did have one big chance to level from a goalmouth scramble ten minutes from time, but their bid for a leveller fizzled out when sub Shane Lyons was sent off for two bookable offences.

Tidswell did have a late chance to seal the points when he fired an inviting Jones cross wide at the second attempt, but the job was already done.

Long Buckby went on to win the UCL Premier Division after setting the previous-best league start. And it’s now hard to imagine anybody stopping Spalding from emulating that.

Tulips: Duggan, Bore, Jackson, Stainfield, Stevens, Hall, Cotton, Webb, Tidswell, Jones, Thurlbourne. Not used: Hussey, Lowery, Roberts, Steadman, Mullarkey.