Spalding United 1, Daventry Town 2
The Tulips turned in a much improved performance at the Sir Halley Stewart Field on Saturday but were still unable to end their run of Evo-Stik NPL Division One South defeats which now stands at three in succession.
Once again their main failing was not converting the number of chances they created and to rub salt into their wounds, they allowed Daventry to score from the only two opportunities they conjured up, both from corner situations in the closing stages, to steal all three points.
One of the most unfortunate not to score was 16-year-old Jonny Lockie, making his Northern Premier debut as a 73rd minute replacement for Mitch Griffiths. With the Tulips trailing 2-1 and only minutes remaining on the clock, he dashed into the penalty area to be faced only by keeper Heath. Just as he was ready to pull the trigger a defender raced in to deny him with the perfect tackle.
The Tulips were quickly out of the starting blocks from the outset and only the crossbar denied new signing Jamie Graham. Skipper Nathan Stainfield pounced on the rebound but his shot was brilliantly kept out by Heath.
Within minutes the lively Graham exploited a defensive error and fired the ball inches wide of the far post. With pressure sustained Heath somehow blocked another shot and Ricky Hill scrambled the ball away from a troubled goal area.
The Tulips were putting some promising build-ups together and creating chances. Moreman ended one such movement with a low ‘sizzler’ that missed the target by inches.
The breakthrough arrived on 42 minutes with Dan Lawlor – having a good game in the midfield – finding Graham on the far side of the penalty area and he gave Heath no chance with a clinical finish.
Early in the second half, Paul Walker connected with a Jamie Thurlbourne cross to force a super save from Heath, while Stainfield rose above the defence to head another cross from Thurlbourne which the ‘keeper did well to keep out. Stainfield did have the ball in the visitors’ net on 62 minutes but referee Ian Dudley spotted an infringement and a goal was disallowed.
Daventry had made a triple substitution in the opening minutes of the second half and the changes of manager Darran Foster began to work, with his side winning more possession than in the first period, but without seriously threatening.
That was until the 72nd minute when substitute Kieron Fitzgerald squeezed the ball in at the far post with virtually his first touch of the game, following a corner. A similar situation three minutes from time saw Nabil Sherriff score the deciding goal of a game the visitors had never looked like winning.
Spalding: Michael Duggan, Paul Walker, Adam Jackson, Neal Spafford, Nathan Stainfield, Sam Murphy, Mitch Griffiths (Jonny Lockie 72 mins), Dan Lawlor, Jamie Graham, Jamie Thurlbourne (Charley Sanders 88 mins), Josh Moreman.
Man of the Match – Jamie Graham
Goals - Jamie Graham (42 mins) 1-0; Kieron Fitzgerald (72 mins) 1-1; Nabil Sherriff (87 mins) 1-2
Attendance: Att. 119