PLAY-OFF FINAL: Promotion dream over for Spalding United

Witton celebrate the winning goal
Witton celebrate the winning goal
  • Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South play-off final - Witton Albion 2 Spalding United 1
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Spalding United suffered a heartbreaking defeat in Saturday’s play-off final.

The Tulips were beaten at Witton Albion who had finished the regular season in runners-up spot.

Bradley Bauress’ opener was cancelled out by a stunning strike from Leon Mettam just four minutes later.

Witton skipper Anthony Gardner tapped home with 15 minutes left to end Spalding’s hopes of going up.

Spalding boss Chris Rawlinson named the same squad which beat Stocksbridge Park Steels in Tuesday night’s semi-final.

However, it was clear that goalkeeper Michael Duggan had not made a full recovery from the midweek injury.

Spalding enjoy getting back on level terms

Spalding enjoy getting back on level terms

Kern Miller took goal kicks and, with the ball in his hands, Duggan preferred to throw it out.

He wasn’t tested before the break, through, as Rob Hopley, Thomas Owens and Will Jones all missed the target for Witton.

The Tulips looked dangerous on the counter-attack, although they also struggled to create clear-cut chances in the opening period.

Nathan Whitehead and Jordan Lemon fired wide from outside the box - but the first 45 minutes lacked quality.

Keeper Danny Roberts can only look back as the ball hits the top corner

Keeper Danny Roberts can only look back as the ball hits the top corner

Steven Tames curled a right-foot effort wide of the far post and Scott Lycett hit the base of the woodwork as Witton piled on the pressure early in the second half.

Hopley nodded off target from a corner and Witton forced a series of set-pieces.

The deadlock was broken as Bauress picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box and smashed a right-foot volley inside the near post.

The response was almost immediate and emphatic as Mettam’s 20-yard drive flew into the top corner.

Michael Duggan makes a terrific save just before the winner

Michael Duggan makes a terrific save just before the winner

However, Gardner made it 2-1 with a tap-in after Duggan pushed out Bauress’s header on the counter-attack.

Rawlinson sent on Jenk Acar and Jonny Lockie for pace up front in a bid to forced extra-time.

Three minutes were added on and Kern Miller was pushed forward along with skipper Nathan Stainfield but there was no way back.

WITTON ALBION

4-4-2: Roberts; Gardner, Brown, Lycett, Devine; Tames, Haywood, Owens, Bauress; Jones, Hopley. Subs not used: Omotola, Williams, Noon, Wilson, Ritchie.

SPALDING UNITED

4-4-2: Duggan; Walker, Miller, Stainfield, Jackson; Beeson (sub Acar 78 mins), Whitehead, Varley, Lemon (sub Higginson 71 mins); Mettam, Wells (sub Lockie 81 mins). Subs not used: Spafford, Downey.

ATTENDANCE: 811