FOOTBALL: Spalding United into top six - but Spafford forced off

Neal Spafford
Neal Spafford
  • Evo-Stik South - Romulus 1 Spalding United 2
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Spalding United moved into the play-off pack thanks to goals either side of half-time.

Although Jordan Lemon was given credit elsewhere for the own goal which opened the Tulips’ account, there was no doubt about Jamie Jackson’s strike which doubled the advantage.

However, man of the match Neal Spafford faces an injury lay-off with a torn calf muscle.

Boss Chris Rawlinson said: “We didn’t play particularly well but it’s a hard place to go.

“Romulus are a very big and strong side who play with a strange shape which we didn’t deal with.

“The opening half an hour was even and we had to change our shape to match them in midfield.

It was an important win because a few teams around us were playing each other so we knew three points would lift us up the table.

Chris Rawlinson

“Michael Duggan made a few saves and we went ahead with an own goal.

“Jackson produced a great finish early in the second half and we were dominant for 25 minutes.

“We needed to bring on Gary King at half-time to hold the ball up front and he won flick-ons.

“At 2-0 down, Romulus threw caution to the wind and we held on after they pulled one back.

“It was an important win because a few teams around us were playing each other so we knew three points would lift us up the table.

“The frustration is that our goal difference was hit by those two defeats over the August bank holiday weekend.

“But we still have a pleasing return in terms of points even with injuries and a few players leaving.”

The 3G pitch at Coles Lane in Sutton Coldfield has not always been a happy hunting ground for the Tulips.

But they matched last term’s 2-1 victory over a hard-working and relegation-threatened Romulus in poor conditions on Saturday.

Spalding adapted well and in the end were worthy winners.

While the opening goal on 41 minutes was a little fortuitous – Lemon’s cross finding the net via a deflection at the near post – Jackson’s finish four minutes after the break was a gem.

Latching onto a long ball from defence, he raced away to steer the ball superbly past keeper Curtis Hall.

Spafford was an inspiration throughout in the heart of defence, particularly in the opening stages of the game when The Roms played home advantage to the full and piled on some pressure.

Three times in quick succession, they managed to create space in the area and test Duggan.

Only the crossbar denied home skipper Cameron Lee in the 28th minute.

Weathering the storm, the Tulips came through unscathed and Lee Beeson saw a good angled drive from 25 yards slip past the far post.

Four minutes later the deadlock was broken then four minutes into the second half, Jackson gave chase to Spafford’s long clearance to increase the lead with aplomb.

To their credit, Romulus battled their way back into the game and deservedly reduced arrears through Harry Harris in the 82nd minute to set up a frantic closure to the game which included seven minutes of added time.

Spalding: Duggan, Walker, A Jackson, Marshall, Humble, Spafford (sub Fixter 90 mins), Lemon, Beeson, J Jackson, Lockie (sub King h-t), Acar. Subs not used: Neil, Millington, Maddison.