SPALDING UNITED 2 PETERBOROUGH NORTHERN STAR 0: Solid Spalding edged closer to the UCL Premier Division title with a hard-fought derby victory over a stubborn Star side on Saturday.
Ross Watson struck inside four minutes to put the Tulips in command of the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field clash, but it wasn’t until Jamie Thurlbourne added a 65th-minute second that the points were totally secure.
A 27th league win from 29 games leaves Pat Rayment’s side 22 points clear of the rest with seven games to play – and they are now 13 points shy of making it mathematically impossible for any side to catch them.
Rayment said: “It was a very solid show from the lads. Star have shown that they can cause the top teams problems, so beating them is no mean feat.
“Obviously it wasn’t the best game in the world, but I don’t blame (Star boss) Darren Jarvis for coming here and playing that way. What would they have to gain by opening up and attacking us?
“They packed the midfield a bit and just had the one up front, so it was tough to break them down. We did have enough clear chances to have won by more, though.
“We were a bit disappointing going forward, but that’s to be expected with Andrew Tidswell out and Mark Jones failing a fitness test. Jordan Thomas also felt his hamstring and Josh Ford is catching up on match fitness. But I’m happy, it’s three more points on the board.”
Spalding came into the game with a fearsome record of 15 goals in their last two outings. But not every game at this level is an exciting goal-fest and this was certainly one of those days.
Defender Watson, who was solid alongside man-of-the-match Nathan Stainfield in central defence, got the all important early opener to stifle any plans Star had of ‘parking the bus’.
He showed good reactions to sweep home a rebound from close range after Lee Beeson’s effort was cleared off the line following a corner.
There was a brief scare moments later at the other end when Nick Davey got in behind the Spalding backline and fired wide, but he was flagged offside.
From then on Star rarely threatened, although they refused to allow Spalding the territorial advantage they so often enjoy. Still, the hosts had two great chances to extend their lead before half time.
The first chance fell to Beeson at the back post, but the in-form winger blazed well over the bar on his weaker left peg.
Lewis Webb then made a hash of a simple-looking one-on-one situation with Nick Conroy, having been cleverly set-up by Jordan Thomas.
However, the ball looked to take a bobble and the midfielder sliced horribly wide when it seemed certain he’d find the net.
The first 20 minutes of the second period were instantly forgettable, with the two teams cancelling each other out for large periods.
But a moment of magic from sub Dan Cotton effectively ended the game as a contest in the 65th minute. The winger, on as a sub for the injured Thomas, jinked past his man superbly before delivering an expert cross for Thurlbourne to volley home from close range.
Adam Jackson went closest to making it three late on when he dragged an effort wide after a one-two with Cotton, but the job was already done.
Tulips: Duggan, Steadman, Jackson, Watson, Stainfield, Webb, Beeson, Hall, Thomas (Cotton 55), Ford (Everington 82), Thurlbourne. Not used: Roberts, Green.