FOOTBALL: Tulips’ eyes are firmly on the ball

RETURN: Spalding skipper Jamie Stevens
RETURN: Spalding skipper Jamie Stevens
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The finishing line in Spalding United’s pursuit of the UCL Premier Division title is firmly in sight – and they won’t falter on the home stretch.

That’s the view of Tulips chief Pat Rayment ahead of Saturday’s trip to struggling Northampton Sileby Rangers (3pm).

Runaway league leaders Spalding require a maximum of 11 more points from their seven remaining games to lift the title after Huntingdon Town drew 1-1 at Deeping Rangers on Tuesday night.

Should Huntingdon, who host Desborough Town on Saturday, drop any more points in their final 12 fixtures, Spalding could be celebrating even sooner.

Although they are considered champions-elect by many, Rayment has warned his rivals that his Tulips won’t be taking their foot off the gas.

“It’s in our hands, but it always has been,” said the Spalding supremo. “For that reason, I’m not really worried what the other teams do.

“We could be as close as three games away from the title if Huntingdon drop points again, but all we can do is keep on winning. We were in their position last year. Trying to hunt teams down isn’t easy, as we discovered.

“Even if we do win the title early, we have a chance to go through an entire league season having only lost once and drawn once. Not many teams at any level can say that.

“So, while there may be a temptation to give some other lads a bit more pitch time, we have to consider the situation we find ourselves in.”

If the form book is anything to go by, Saturday’s trip to Sileby shouldn’t pose too much of a threat to the Tulips’ fine Premier Division record.

Spalding, 22 points clear at the top, are unbeaten in 11 league games since losing to AFC Rushden and Diamonds in December, while Sileby are without a win in four and sit in 16th place – five points off the drop zone.

Rayment added: “Their boss Darren Young knows his way around the UCL, we know what to expect.

“They have a nice pitch over there, so it’ll suit us. It’s three more points we want to chalk off.”

Skipper Jamie Stevens could return from a broken collarbone at Fernie Fields, while Mark Jones and Jordan Thomas should also be fit.

Leading scorer Andrew Tidswell and Jonny Allen both remain sidelined.