FOOTBALL: Tulips have their eyes on the prize

RARING TO GO: Spalding United boss Pat Rayment has a full squad available for Saturday's trip to Wisbech Town.
RARING TO GO: Spalding United boss Pat Rayment has a full squad available for Saturday's trip to Wisbech Town.

Business is about to pick up in Spalding United’s pursuit of the UCL Premier Division title as they prepare to kick-off their 12-game run-in.

The Tulips, 16 points clear of second-placed Deeping Rangers, require a maximum of nine wins from their decisive dozen to be crowned champions for the first time in a decade.

That run begins at Wisbech Town on Saturday (3pm), in what will be Spalding’s first league game in three weeks after the recent wave of rain.

Boss Pat Rayment expects to have a full squad at his disposal for the first time in a while – and is chomping at the bit ahead of the derby duel.

“We need to get back playing again,” admitted the former Peterborough United professional. “The break has helped us, with a few niggles clearing up.

“But before then we had a rough time – going out of two cup competitions in the manner we did wasn’t ideal, but now we can focus on the league. The aim is to win all of our matches, which I’m sure would set some kind of league record.”

Before the start of the season, Saturday’s opponents Wisbech were billed as one of the Tulips’ chief title rivals.

Sadly for the Fenmen, the sideways switch to the UCL has proved a little tougher for them – and they find themselves 30 points behind Spalding in seventh spot.

Now co-managed by Dick Creasey – the man who led the Tulips to their last Premier DIvision title in 2003/04 – Rayment still feels it’ll be a tough test for his team.

He added: “They’ve done the UCL proud in the FA Vase and are a club equipped to move forward.

“I think they’ve probably been surprised just how strong this league is. They’ve improved a lot recently and it’ll be a good local derby.”

Spalding hope to extend Jordan Thomas’ loan from Lincoln City for another month. He returns to the squad, as do leading scorer Andrew Tidswell and ex-Wisbech man Jon Fairweather.