Spalding United climbed to the top of the First Division South on Saturday – their highest-ever position in the modern-day pyramid – with an impressive display following one of their longest journeys of the season.
The scoreline may suggest a close encounter but realistically the Tulips, powerful and persistent as ever, won with considerable ease to maintain their unbeaten start to the league season.
Before the game, like all others in the Evo-Stik League, one minute of silent tribute was observed to the memory of Shaw Lane defender Daniel Wilkinson who collapsed and died on the field during a midweek cup game at Brighouse.
The Tulips got off to the best possible start with a goal after just six minutes.
A flowing move saw Jenk Acar put over a great cross to find Bradley Wells. His shot was pushed away for a corner but from the following kick Sam Downey beat the goalkeeper with a powerful and well-placed header.
Just two minutes earlier Downey had nodded Jordan Lemon’s cross just wide of the target.
It was an impressive opening by the Tulips with their mid-table opponents soaking up considerable pressure.
Lemon was near to extending the lead when firing Nathan Whitehead’s assist just over the bar.
Andy Wright and Wells combined to carve out another opportunity and Wright’s corner kick found skipper Nathan Stainfield at the far post to head inches over the bar.
But the pressure brought its reward in the 16th minute. A long ball from midfield was won by Wright who nonchantly nipped round the keeper to score a simple goal.
Midway through the first half leading scorer Wells missed out in a one-on-one situation while at the other end Market Drayton Town’s best attacking move so far brought a good save from Michael Duggan.
Wells, however, was not to be denied and just four minutes after the interval, in typical style, he gathered Wright’s corner to score his 11th goal of the season from eight appearances.
Drayton then had Kevin Buxton sent off for a rash challenge on the rampant Wells but they reduced their arrears on 57 minutes with a cracking goal by Daniel Beddows following a corner.
James Cullingworth was near to restoring the Tulips’ three-goal margin and other scoring opportunities were created for Wells, Stainfield, Wright and Acar.
As the game drifted into added time Matt Varley was harshly adjudged to have handled in the area and Josh Green neatly converted the resulting penalty.
Spalding: Duggan, Lemon, Walker, Varley, Stainfield, Spafford, Acar (sub Lockie 76 mins), Whitehead, Wells, Downey (sub Cullingworth 55 mins), Wright. Sub not used: Hamilton. Star man: Wells.