FOOTBALL: Tulips’ late charge takes them top

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LONG BUCKBY 2 (Rogers 50, Earls OG 65) SPALDING UNITED 3 (Musgrove 70, Joyce 75, Earls 85): Resurgent Spalding came from 2-0 down to sink the defending champions on Saturday – and go top of the UCL Premier Division in the process.

The Tulips looked set for a first reverse of the campaign when a blockbuster Danny Rogers effort and an unfortunate Callum Earls own goal sent Long Buckby clear with 25 minutes remaining.

However, the home side imploded and saw two players – including their keeper – sent off, setting the stage for late Spalding strikes from Scott Musgrove, Jacob Joyce and Earls, who fired a dramatic winner.

Although Tulips chief Pat Rayment is pleased to top the early standings, he’s under no illusions at where his side are currently at – and he’s actively searching for reinforcements ahead of Saturday’s mouth-watering clash with title rivals St Ives Town (3pm).

“It’s never bad to be top of the table,” said Rayment. “But let’s be honest, we’ve not really got going yet.

“We’ve been our own worst enemy at times and that was the case again on Saturday.

“Their first goal was a bit of a cracker, but the second was a mess. We’ve just let in too many sloppy goals.

“The lads here are under no requirements of what’s expected and it hasn’t really been good enough yet.

“But you can’t deny our spirit. We’ve been behind in every game this season and each time they’ve battled back. We may have been a bit sloppy again, but credit where credit is due, we got the job done – again.”

After a goalless first period, Rogers gave the reigning league champions an early advantage with a looping shot from 30 yards which gave new Spalding number one Lee Drury no chance.

That soon became 2-0 when a hopeful strike cruelly deflected off the head of Earls and left Drury with absolutely no chance.

Spalding had created numerous chances though – none better than a header from Shane Tolley that somehow missed the target.

The comeback began when a Buckby defender was given his marching orders for taking down Tom James when he was clean through on goal.

Moments later midfield ace Musgrove popped up with his first goal for the Tulips on 70 minutes, then substitute strike Joyce bundled home a controversial leveller – which ultimately led to the Bucks being reduced to nine men.

Buckby’s keeper felt the ex-Peterborough United hitman had knocked the ball out of his hands and vented his anger at the assistant referee, which earned him the second red card of the game.

From then on there was only going to be one winner, with Earls duly atoning for his earlier misdemeanour with an 85th minute clincher.

With no midweek match, Rayment has now turned his attentions to the transfer market.

He is hopeful of wrapping up a deal to bring former Boston United midfielder Chris Hall to the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field this week, while Josh Freeman could follow suite.

The Mablethorpe-based ex-Grimsby Town winger does have travel issues though, making his transfer somewhat problematic.

Rayment is also eyeing a mystery defender.

Tulips: Drury, Bull, Earls, Fuff, Canoville, Steadman, Doherty, Musgrove, Stevens (James), Tolley (Joyce), Green. Not used: Hussey.

Saturday – Spalding Utd v St Ives (3pm); Tue, Sept 4 – Spalding Utd v Sleaford Town (7.45pm).