It was penalty shoot-out heartache for Spalding on Tuesday night as Stamford ended their interest in the Lincs FA Senior Trophy.
Spot-kicks were needed to decide the county quarter-final after Dan Cotton’s 59th-minute strike cancelled out Liam Richardson’s opener just before the break.
With the scores level at 4-4 in the shoot-out, Adam Jackson saw his low effort saved by Will Jones – allowing Richardson to fire step three Stamford into the last four.
It was a bittersweet night for Tulips chief Pat Rayment, who saw his side more than match a team that plays two levels higher than them in the non-league ladder.
“We should have won,” lamented the Spalding supremo. “We certainly had the better of the chances.
“We held our own, which is what I expected my team to do. But it was a close game, the kind we’re not used to in the UCL Premier Division.
“Once it went to penalties I switched off. It’s a lottery and there’s nothing you can do. All I ask is that my lads hit the target – and that’s what they did.
“I’m disappointed to go out, but it’s a much tougher competition this year. We’d have won it if it had been the same format as the past few years.”
Billed as an acid test of their credentials, Spalding had the better of the Vic Couzens Stadium clash early on.
Ross Watson sent a looping header over from a deep Jackson cross, while skipper Jamie Stevens nodded a wonderful chance wide from six yards with the goal gaping.
Lee Beeson also tested Daniels number one Jones with a stinging drive – but it was the hosts who drew first blood.
Neat interchange between Ryan Robbins and Richardson allowed the latter to drill home a fierce low drive from the edge of the box on 37 minutes.
That was a little harsh on the Tulips, but they responded on the hour when Beeson squared for Cotton to finish well on the turn from ten yards.
The excellent Chris Hall then had a 25-yarder tipped over, before Stevens headed another glorious chance wide from the resulting corner.
That took the tie to penalties and Michael Duggan saved Stamford’s first effort, but Lewis Webb saw the second of Spalding’s six on the night stopped.
Jamie Thurlbourne, Beeson, Cotton and Nathan Stainfield were the successful takers, before Jackson’s miss allowed Stamford to progress.
The Tulips are hoping to bounce back at home to Cogenhoe United in the UCL Premier Division on Saturday (3pm). Spalding won the reverse 5-2 last weekend.
Tulips: Duggan, Watson, Jackson, Stevens, Stainfield, Webb, Beeson, Hall, Mullarkey (Steadman 90), Cotton, Thurlbourne.