FOOTBALL: Tulips race clear after 14th successive win

ME AGAIN: Andrew Tidswell strokes home Spalding's opener - his 25th of the season. Photo: JAKE WHITELEY
ME AGAIN: Andrew Tidswell strokes home Spalding's opener - his 25th of the season. Photo: JAKE WHITELEY

HARBOROUGH TOWN 0 SPALDING UNITED 4: Spalding opened up an ominous five-point lead at the top of the UCL Premier Division on Saturday after streaking to a 14th win from as many games.

The flawless leaders remain on-course for a record-breaking season after putting the league’s basement boys to the sword with two goals in each half.

Leading scorer Andrew Tidswell got the ball rolling with his 25th goal of the season, before Dan Cotton, Nathan Stainfield and new recruit Peter Bore rounded off the rout.

Spalding supremo Pat Rayment felt his side weren’t quite at their best – but had a defiant message for his team’s critics, who claim they have yet to take on any of their title rivals.

“I wasn’t particularly happy with the first half, performance-wise,” said the Tulips chief. “But I’m very protective of my players, so I’ll not knock them.

“It was much better after the break. But for an inspired keeper we might have had a few more goals.

“I’ve heard a few people sounding off about the fact we’ve not played any of the ‘bigger sides’. Well we want to play them, so we can show just how good we are.

“What the people knocking us don’t know is just how dominant we’ve been in most of our games – and the stats back us up on that.”

Although Spalding were lacklustre in the first half, Mark Jones and Lee Canoville both went close before they broke the deadlock on the half hour.

Chris Hall found Jones, who threaded the ball through to Tidswell to expertly skip past a defender and the keeper before tapping home.

The lead was doubled six minutes later when Cotton curled home a stunning free kick into the corner from just outside the box.

Spalding were in complete control after the interval and duly extended their advantage in the 61st minute.

Man-of-the-match defender Stainfield rose superbly to head Cotton’s corner in the net to seal the points.

They saved their best goal for last, though, with Bore meeting a flighted Cotton pass on the full to open his Tulips account in only his second match since arriving from Boston United on dual forms.

The win leaves Spalding just two wins shy of matching the best-ever start to a UCL Premier Division campaign.

Long Buckby set that record in 2011/12 – and went on to be crowned champions.

Tulips: Duggan, Canoville, Jackson, Hall (Lowery 78), Stainfield, Webb, Bore, Steadman, Jones (Mullarkey 37), Tidswell, Cotton (Gibson 78). Not used: Roberts. Attendance: 51.