Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South: Rugby Town 1, Spalding United 1
On the day former non-league player Jamie Vardy set a new Premiership scoring record, Paul Walker bagged a goal to earn the Tulips a valuable Evo-Stik League Division One South point at Rugby Town.
And the point won at a windswept and rain drenched Butlin Road ensured Tulips remain unbeaten in five league games since the start of Marcus Ebdon’s reign as manager.
Such were the conditions, with the elements continuing throughout and the pitch becoming heavier, both teams deserve credit for combining to give the 147 spectators a thrilling game to watch.
The home team played well above their fourth from bottom league spot and made the Tulips battle all the way in an energy-sapping encounter.
Play was continually from end to end. Rugby were first to be tested with Josh Moreman ending a trademark dash down the left side with a low cross-shot which man-of-the-match Paul Walker just failed to connect with at the far post.
At the other end a free kick by Kevin Thornton from just outside the area flashed inches with of Michael Duggan’s left side post. Shortly afterwards another Moreman effort was cleared off the home goalline.
The Tulips enjoyed considerable possession and were near to taking the lead. Sam Murphy saw a good effort deflected for a corner and goalkeeper Sam Andrew, Rugby’s ninth ‘keeper of the season – signed a few days earlier from Goole, saved bravely at the foot of a post with Jake Newman ready to pounce.
The stalemate was ended on the stroke of half time with the hard working and impressive Paul Walker on hand at the far post to knock in Adam Jackson’s cross from the left.
Despite no let-up in the dismal weather conditions in the second half, the level of commitment from players did not deteriorate with play continuing to switch rapidly from end to end.
Rugby finally got the goal their efforts deserved on the hour with the tricky and speedy Callum Powell’s shot, buffeted by the strong wind, spooning out of Michael Duggan’s hands into the roof of the net.
The game opened up following this with Rugby’s Mason Rowley doing well to cut out a dangerous Walker cross and shortly after roles were reversed with the Tulips’ star man Walker blocking a Rowely header on the line.
Tulips: Michael Duggan, Paul Walker, Adam Jackson, Neal Spafford, Nathan Stainfield, Sam Murphy, Dan Banister, Dan Lawlor, Jake Newman, Josh Moreman, Mitch Griffiths (Tom Waumsley 75 mins).
Subs (not used) Ellis Humble, Charley Sanders.