Skipper Nathan Stainfield was the hero of the night with a late winning goal at the Marston’s Stadium on Tuesday.
Stainfield’s 81st-minute strike – a trademark far-post header from Andy Wright’s corner –ensured Spalding United’s unbeaten start to the league season remained intact and also kept them on top of the table.
Once again the Tulips’ work ethic was superb – not quite as fluent as at Market Drayton Town a few days earlier, but none-the-less totally effective to keep a lively Belper Town side under control.
The Tulips took the lead on 35 minutes, albeit thanks to an own-goal by home skipper Eric Graves who turned in a stinging low driven 20-yard free-kick by Nathan Whitehead just inside the near post.
But just four minutes later the scores were level with Alex Steadman slotting in a penalty conceded by Neal Spafford in a crowded area following a free-kick.
Working well from back to front, the Tulips were pretty much in control during the opening half – Jenk Acar posing the home defence a few problems with his right-side runs.
A good move between Acar, Andy Wright and Bradley Wells opened the home defence after five minutes but Wright’s shot was blocked and consequently cleared.
Minutes later Matt Varley’s long throw in the home area was scrambled away while another penetrative left-side break involving four players unfortunately did not provide the required finish.
At the other end keeper Michael Duggan watched Graves’ shot from a distance curl wide of his far post as Belper threatened.
With a goal for either team in the latter stages, the game was at stalemate at the interval.
Early in the second half man of the match Stainfield pulled out a superb saving header to prevent the home team taking the lead, but the better opportunites were coming at the other end of the pitch.
In quick succession Varley and Acar, following a sharp break by Wells, fired over the bar.
Wells, who was posing problems inside the area, was denied a blatant penalty when a shirt tugging defender sent him sprawling. But the referee was not interested in the appeals.
Duggan was well positioned to smother another shot from Jermaine Hollis but play quickly switched back to the other end where Sam Downey was within a whisker of connecting with Wells’ defence-splitting cross.
The Tulips were worthy of the lead when Stainfield’s header was driven home and they were just inches away from extending the advantage five minutes from full-time when Whitehead, in horizontal pose, sent a bullet header from Wright’s cross wide of Danny Haystead’s goal.
Haystead, Bryant, Guy, Graves, G Palmer, Watt, Armstrong, Williams, Ball, Hollis, Steadman. Subs: King, Constable, Allen, J Palmer, Rathbone.
Duggan, Lemon, Walker, Varley, Stainfield, Spafford, Acar (sub Lockie 90 mins), Whitehead, Wells, Downey, Wright. Subs not used: Cullingworth, Vince.
Graves og (35 mins, 0-1); Steadman pen (43 mins, 1-1); Stainfield (81 mins, 1-2).
Gresley (H) – Saturday.
EVO-STIK NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE
First Division South: Bedworth 4 Romulus 2, Belper 1 Spalding 2, Chasetown 1 Northwich 1, Loughborough Dynamo 1 Sheffield 0, Market Drayton v Newcastle abandoned, Shaw Lane 2 Basford 0.
CHROMASPORT & TROPHIES UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE
Premier Division: Oadby 3 Kirby Muxloe 3, Wisbech 1 Yaxley 4.
Division One: Daventry 2 Lutterworth 0, Irchester 1 Stewarts & Lloyds 0, Olney v Raunds abandoned, Rushden & Higham 2 Bugbrooke St Michaels 0, Thrapston 0 Potton 0, Whitworth 5 Long Buckby 2, Woodford 1 Buckingham 6.
Reserve Knockout Cup first round: Eynesbury 5 ON Chenecks 6 (ON Chenecks at home to Bugbrooke St Michaels), Newport Pagnell 2 Cogenhoe 0 (Newport Pagnell at home to Raunds).
BALCAN LIGHTING SUPPLIES LINCOLNSHIRE LEAGUE
Lincoln Moorlands Railway 5 Immingham 1.