Point made by Tulips

Chris Hall

Chris Hall

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Evo-Stik League First Division South - Leek Town 1 Spalding United 1

There is a prospect of much more to come from these teams.

Saturday’s stalemate in the Staffordshire Moorlands was a fair result after a poor game.

The draw again opens up the possibility of Spalding United taking on Leek Town for the fifth time this season.

Having faced each other in three games inside eight days last November, they could meet in the play-offs as well.

Of course, you can’t really judge the quality of a side when you haven’t seen them on a regular basis.

Second spot shows Leek have performed well - but on this evidence then the Tulips would have little to fear if they head back to Harrison Park.

However, they might be thinking the same about Spalding.

On top form Pat Rayment’s side would have surely taken a huge step towards a top-five finish.

But they were below par and the boss was spot on to highlight how some of the players looked ‘laid-back’.

With a high-tempo game they could have caught out Leek who were playing their fifth match already in April.

If the hosts were tired, this was a chance for Spalding to take full advantage.

In midfield they tried to find that extra energy but couldn’t create clear-cut chances.

The rotation of Jack McGovern and Dan Banister gave them licence to get into space and leave Leek wondering who to pick up where.

While Lewis Webb and Jamie Thurlbourne kept their discipline and showed experience to stay in position, it was a key area for the Tulips’ tactics to gain control.

It didn’t quite work, though, with limited service for Tom Waumsley and Matty Nolan up front.

Overall if was solid and unspectacular - summed up by full-backs Mitch Griffiths and Adam Jackson being reluctant to push forward too often.

Without the services of central defenders Nathan Stainfield and Jamie Stevens, you would have to agree this was a good point away to one of the promotion contenders.

Defeat would have seen Spalding drop out of the play-off pack along with wins for Gresley and Sutton Coldfield Town.

So it was even more important to take something off the Blues who had won every game since the start of March apart from two Easter losses.

Waumsley was off target twice but the opening period lacked quality for a top-of-the-table clash.

One minute was added on and Leek went ahead with the last touch in first-half stoppage-time.

Jordan Johnson delivered a free-kick towards the far post and Karl Espley was unmarked to head home his first goal of the season.

After three successive wins with a clean sheet each time, it was the first goal conceded by Spalding in 325 minutes and the whistle went as Leek were celebrating.

Just eight minutes after the break, the Tulips were back on level terms thanks to a moment of magic.

Jamie Thurlbourne’s 25-yard free-kick into the top corner would have been replayed and analysed so many times on TV if it had been scored in professional football.

Quite simply it was a stunning strike and wonderful technique.

Five minutes after coming on as a substitute, Lee Beeson wasted a chance to win it when his lob went fractionally too high.

Tim Grice missed a couple of opportunities at the other end but Spalding only looked in danger when Johnson’s free-kick curled just over with three minutes to go.

The Tulips could be content with a point - while perhaps pondering what might have been - and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they met Leek again at the end of this month.

LEEK TOWN

4-4-2: Martin; Thompson, Espley, Chadwick, Jackson; Mullarkey, Hall (sub Maguire 61 mins), Danylyk, Williams; Grice, Johnson. Subs not used: Lowe, Donnelly, Kinsella, Chapman.

SPALDING UNITED

4-4-2: Duggan 6; Griffiths 6, Leary 7, Hall 7, Jackson 6; McGovern 6, Webb 6, Banister 6, J Thurlbourne 7 (sub Beeson 67 mins, 6); Nolan 5 (sub Vieira 80 mins), Waumsley 5. Subs not used: Ebdon, Pycock.

REFEREE

William Smallwood.

GOALS

Espley (45 mins, 1-0); J Thurlbourne (53 mins, 1-1).

BOOKING

McGovern (foul).

ATTENDANCE

201.

STAR MAN

Chris Hall - deputised in defence again and produced a strong performance alongside the skipper.