TULIPS: French fires fightback with double

*Spalding Utd team photo, Halley Stewart.'back Daniel Hussey,

*Spalding Utd team photo, Halley Stewart.'back Daniel Hussey,

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SPALDING UNITED 3 (Mowbray 52, French 59 & 62) SLEAFORD TOWN 3 (Beadles 18, Ellis 25, Sedlan pen 43): Perhaps the most exciting game at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field this decade saw the Tulips battle back from 3-0 down to clinch a deserved draw on Tuesday night.

In the first-ever fully competitive clash between the two teams, first-half goals from Tim Beadles, Jake Ellis and Jason Sedlan put Sleaford in command at half time.

But an incredible ten-minute spree saw Spalding haul themselves level by the 62nd minute, with Simon Mowbray and Danny French (2) finding the net.

Andy Stanhope’s Tulips could – and perhaps should – have gone on to take all three points against one of the weaker sides in the UCL Premier Division, but a draw felt like the right result at the final whistle.

“It was a game for the neutrals,” admitted Stanhope. “I thought we started superbly, but we looked shell-shocked at half time.

“We should have won the game and in the end it’s two points dropped. But I guess we’d have taken a draw after being 3-0 down.

“The team is still a work in progress and I think we need to do better when we haven’t got the ball.”

Spalding started by far the better, with the lively Mowbray twice forcing Doug Lundberg into smart stops.

The Lincoln City loanee then tipped a Greg Smith header onto the post as the hosts threatened to run riot.

Yet it was Sleaford who made the breakthrough, as Beadles was on hand to turn home a Sedlan cross from close-range.

It got worse soon after, with Ellis – the smallest man on the pitch – rising unopposed to head home the visitors’ second.

Amazingly the strugglers grabbed a third before the interval. Callum Earls handled in the box, leaving ex-Tulip Sedlan the chance to fire home from the spot.

You sensed the first goal of the second period was key – and it was smashed home emphatically on the half-volley by Mowbray.

Seven minutes later it was 3-2, French firing a deflected effort into the far corner after neat interplay with Mowbray.

The same two players were pivotal in the leveller too.

Industrious play from Mowbray led to a mistake in the stunned Sleaford defence, allowing French to slot home his second from six yards.

Mowbray then forced Lundberg into a super stop with his legs and sub Josh Ford fired into the side netting as Spalding searched for a winner in vain.

In the grand scheme of things this is a poor result for Spalding – but it was great entertainment nonetheless.

Defender Danny Hussey could return for Saturday’s trip to struggling Irchester United (3pm), while Jammal Shahin is pushing for a start after impressing as a sub on Tuesday.

The Tulips crushed Irchester 7-0 last month.

Tulips: Conroy, Duncliffe, Earls, Hook, Fuff, Baker, French, Hughes (Harris 85), Smith, Mowbray (Ford 87), O’Loughlin (Shahin 50). Not used: Harrold.

Tuesday night’s other UCL Premier Division scores: Deeping Rangers 1 (M Jones 68) King’s Lynn Town FC 5 (Defty 12, Beaumont 23, 44 & 74, Moreira 42); Newport Pagnell 2 (Armstrong 13, Shrieves 90) Yaxley 1 (Challinor 35).