HOLBEACH UNITED 0 SPALDING UNITED 5: Andrew Tidswell helped himself to a hat-trick against his former side as Spalding romped to victory in the most one-sided South Holland derby in recent memory.
The Spalding striker notched on 2, 25 and 56 minutes at Carter’s Park on Wednesday night, while Dan Cotton (44) and Jake Gibson (83) also got in on the act to send their side top of the UCL Premier Division table.
Both sides finished the ‘clasico’ with ten men, as Tiger Tom Sergeant and Spalding centre back Jamie Stevens - who was Holbeach’s title-winning skipper last term - were sent off following a second-half scuffle.
While it’s a perfect ten wins from as many league games for Pat Rayment’s Tulips, it’s now seven defeats on the bounce in all competitions for Glen Maddison and his Tigers.
Spalding set the tone right from the off, as Adam Jackson - another former Holbeach favourite - delivered an inch-perfect cross for Tidswell to head the opener into the far corner. The ball may have come off the forward’s shoulder, but it was well directed nonetheless.
With the visitors bopping the ball around beautifully on a damp pitch, it was an ominous sign of things to come for struggling Holbeach.
Leigh Overton was forced to get down low and superbly tip a drilled Tidswell drive around the post, while Mark Jones fired one right down the home keeper’s throat after expertly bringing the ball down on his chest.
With the chances flowing, it was no surprise when Spalding doubled their money - and the scorer of the goal was even less of a shock.
Jones pinched possession high up the field and made good ground down the right, before unselfishly squaring for strike partner Tidswell to convert from ten yards. Again, the hitman didn’t make ideal contact with the ball, but his strike looped over the stranded Overton and nestled into the far left corner.
With Holbeach unable to mount any kind of attack, the one-way traffic continued to yield chance after chance for the slick Tulips. Lewis Webb lashed a fierce half-volley just over from 25 yards, while Cotton rifled over after a Lee Beeson cross fell nicely for him.
Left winger Cotton didn’t have to wait too long to get on the scoresheet, though. He picked up the ball some 40 yards from goal and took the long road outside a few Tigers defenders before drilling a superb low drive into Overton’s far corner a minute before the break.
If the shell-shocked Tigers felt the half-time interval would change their fortunes, they were sadly mistaken as Spalding’s swagger grew even more in the second period.
That man Tidswell had already been denied his hat-trick by an alert stop from Overton before he tied up his treble 11 minutes into the second period.
Great interplay between Tulips skipper Lee Canoville and wide man Beeson saw the latter whip a devastating cross in for leading scorer Tidswell, who directed a lethal downward header into the net to kill the game as a contest.
For Holbeach, all that remained at this stage was pride - and the carrot of becoming the first side to score a league goal against Spalding since the opening day of the season.
The hosts finally went close on the hour when the hard-working Tommy Treacher directed a header towards Michael Duggan’s goal, but the Spalding number one - who could be forgiven for having nodded off a little - spilled his effort behind for a corner.
Then came a surprising flashpoint 20 minutes from time, when Sergeant and Stevens clashed in front of the two dug-outs. It appeared that the Holbeach winger aimed a kick at Stevens, who retaliated as the two tangled on the floor.
The referee showed no hesitation in dismissing the duo - with the Spalding bench particularly unhappy to lose a key cog in their unbreakable back-line for what could be three big games in their big for honours.
With the Tigers now enjoying their best spell, right back Ash Murrell galloped forward and fired a hopeful 25-yard drive just over Duggan’s bar.
Typically, Spalding went right up the other end as sub Sam Mullarkey - on for hat-trick hero Tidswell - raced through and rounded Overton, only to see his effort come back of the near post.
As the ball bounced out off the frame of the goal there was a tangle in the box, resulting in a penalty for the visitors, but Webb blazed the spot-kick over via the top of the bar.
The Tulips weren’t done yet, however, and added one more goal to seal their emphatic derby success. Just like the opener it was left back Jackson who turned provider, slipping in sub Gibson to poke home cleverly from close range.
The fifth goal didn’t flatter the Tulips in the slightest and their 100 per cent record from ten UCL Premier Division games will sent ripples through the non-league scene. They jump above Deeping Rangers to the summit and maintain an incredible defensive record that has now seen them go close to 900 minutes without shipping a league goal.
For Holbeach, the magnitude of the loss will leave fans and players alike licking their wounds. But they aren’t the first team to take a tonking from the Tulips this term - and they certainly won’t be the last. It’s onwards and upwards for Maddison’s men in the FA Vase at Blaby and Whetstone Athletic on Saturday.
Tigers: Overton, Murrell, Warfield, Sturman, Braithwaite, Relf (Waumsley 54), Sergeant, Shipley (Beauchamp 80), Treacher, Law (Sevilha 69), Johnson. Not used: Hollingworth, Bishop.
Tulips: Duggan, Canoville, Jackson, Stevens, Stainfield, Webb, Beeson (O’Neill 67), Hall, Tidswell (Mullarkey 62), Jones, Cotton (Gibson 67). Not used: Hussey, Drury.