FOOTBALL: Tulips sweat over fitness of key ‘Cogs’

MISSING MAN: Andrew Tidswell (left) is one of the key players Pat Rayment (right) must do without on Saturday.
MISSING MAN: Andrew Tidswell (left) is one of the key players Pat Rayment (right) must do without on Saturday.

Spalding United could be without a host of key players for one of their toughest away UCL Premier Division games of the season so far.

The Tulips make the long trek to Cogenhoe United on Saturday (3pm) in what will be the first of back-to-back league games against the third-placed side on successive Saturdays.

Runaway leaders Spalding are 13 points clear of the Cooks and can effectively end any realistic chance they have of catching them in the space of seven days.

But boss Pat Rayment could have a major selection headache on his hands, with leading scorer Andrew Tidswell ruled out and defensive duo Nathan Stainfield and Jamie Stevens both struggling.

Midfield maestro Chris Hall is also trying to shake off an illness, while Rayment also rates talented hitman Mark Jones as a doubt.

The Spalding supremo said: “Cogenhoe are one of those teams that you always expect to be there or thereabouts in the top six.

“They are a good club and have been doing very well.

“It’s not really ideal that we have a number of key men either missing or doubtful, but I fully back whatever team I put out to get the job done.

“To play them twice so quickly is a tough one, but I think the break because of the bad weather will benfit us more than the other teams.

“Teams normally need to be on a good run to have any chance of beating us.”

With just 14 league games to go, a six-point haul from their Cogenhoe double would edge the Tulips closer to the title – and their ultimate goal of promotion to step four of the non-league ladder.

Rayment strongly believes that his record-breaking side, who have won 21 of their 22 league matches this season, will win all of their remaining league games. He also feels that the Tulips’ rivals lack the consistency to catch them.

He added: “It’s all very well getting up for the big games, but you have to beat the mid-table teams too. Look at Cogenhoe, they lost to Peterborough Northern Star twice.

“We’ve beaten everyone that’s been put in front of us when we’ve had 11 men on the field. I back this team to the hilt and we believe we can win all 14 of our remaining league games.”

New signings Ross Watson and Jordan Thomas are both fit and could make their Spalding debuts at Compton Park.