MATCH VERDICT AND VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Frustrating day as Spalding United draw a blank

Goalkeeper Richard Walton on his debut for Spalding. Photo: Tim Wilson
Goalkeeper Richard Walton on his debut for Spalding. Photo: Tim Wilson
  • Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South - Spalding United 0 Kidsgrove Athletic 0

The feelgood factor turned into frustration for Spalding United.

A five-match winning run had taken the Tulips to top spot as the countdown begins in the push for promotion.

Four clean sheets earned December’s club of the month award and they started 2017 in style with a derby victory at Stamford.

So there should have been plenty of confidence going into Saturday’s home game against Kidsgrove Athletic who have failed to win on the road for more than two months.

However, the display felt ‘flat’ as Spalding struggled to get their game flowing.

They didn’t deserve to get three points and the draw wasn’t enough to keep them in pole position before next weekend’s showdown with Shaw Lane.

But it would be wrong to criticise at this stage when a six-match unbeaten run has put Spalding right back in the title race.

Although the Tulips were far from their best form, they could take away plenty of positives.

Teenage loanee Richard Walton – who is Spalding’s third goalkeeper in three games since Christmas – put in an assured performance.

He tipped away Kidsgrove captain Ant Malbon’s left-foot drive moments before Paul Walker cleared off the line from Dan Skelton.

The Tulips were lucky as Harry Clayton’s flick bounced off the bar early in the second half.

Clayton somehow missed the target from inside the six-yard box with a late chance to win it.

Walton denied them again by pushing out efforts from Malbon and Lee Pickerill in a two-minute spell.

He also held onto a long-range shot by Skelton while free-kicks from Kyle Diskin and Lewis Bergin failed to test Walton.

Malbon nodded wide with another attempt but there were opportunities at the other end as well.

In a bright start, Bradley Wells fired across the six-yard box and strike partner Brad Barraclough couldn’t quite get the final touch following Conor Higginson’s pass.

Goalkeeper Chris Martin knocked the ball away from Wells who was waiting at the far post as captain Nathan Stainfield flicked on Matt Varley’s long throw.

As time ran out, Spalding became more desperate with long balls and set-pieces in a bid to break the deadlock.

Substitute Jack Wightwick forced a save and Stainfield was also denied by Martin.

Nathan Whitehead’s shot was deflected safely towards the keeper while Stainfield added a couple of late efforts to the tally of missed chances.

Credit goes to Kidsgrove, though, for a job well done as they earned some reward in a scrappy game.

SPALDING UNITED

4-4-2: Walton 7; Walker 6, Spafford 6, Stainfield 6, Jackson 6; Lemon 6, Whitehead 6, Varley 6, Higginson 6 (sub Wightwick 66 mins, 6); Wells 6, Barraclough 6. Subs not used: Field, Lockie, Beeson, Fleming.

KIDSGROVE ATHLETIC

4-4-2: Martin; Ashman, Austin, Davidson (sub Hodgkinson 57 mins), Bergin; Johnston (sub Diskin 19 mins), Skelton, Grocott, Pickerill; Malbon, Clayton. Subs not used: Birchall, Johns, Bath.

REFEREE

Hallam Cutmore.

BOOKINGS

Skelton, Lemon, Wells (fouls).

ATTENDANCE

141

STAR MAN

Richard Walton – clean sheet on his debut thanks to a couple of good saves. Assured performance from the on-loan teenager.

ENTERTAINMENT

★★

WHO’S NEXT

Rushall Olympic (A) –Integro Cup second round, Tuesday.