Tulips hoping for chance to catch top two

Pat Rayment
Pat Rayment

Having “the strongest squad in the league” should benefit Spalding United as they look to play catch-up in the race for promotion, according to boss Pat Rayment.

The Tulips were left without a game as Saturday’s scheduled trip to Market Drayton Town was called off following a 9am pitch inspection.

Spalding are fourth in the Evo-Stik League First Division South table – 14 points behind leaders Sutton Coldfield Town with five games in hand.

Rayment said: “Saturday was a bit frustrating when we didn’t play.

“But all the teams who could have overtaken us didn’t play either and Mickleover Sports, who are third, were beaten at home by Kidsgrove Athletic.

“That just shows how this league is very competitive at the moment.

“At the top Sutton Coldfield and Newcastle Town have got the points on the board while other teams like ourselves have games in hand.

“If we won all of our games in hand then we would move above those two at the top.

“I know managers will say they would rather have the points on the board. But at the same time there will be weeks where they don’t have a game and we will be playing.

“I just don’t want to find ourselves in a situation where we play on Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

“Personally, and I’m sure the players feel the same, I would prefer to play midweek matches and try to keep our winning run going.

“It’s a double-edged sword in terms of points on the board or having games in hand.

“It’s all adding up to a very interesting division. At the start of the season I thought a dozen teams could make the play-offs. Now there are eight to ten teams in that position but six of those could probably win the league.

“The standard has gone up with an improvement by a lot of teams. It’s brilliant to be part of the league.

“I think we have got the strongest squad when you see the likes of Lee Clarke, Chris Hall, Andy Tidswell, Luke Thurlbourne, Ryan Oliver and Lewis Webb are not currently in the starting line-up.”

Spalding United have issued an official statement following boss Pat Rayment’s criticism of the Sir Halley Stewart Field pitch.

Earlier this month, after the Tulips beat Coalville Town in the Doodson Sport Cup, Rayment said the state of the pitch was “a disgrace”. At the time, South Holland District Council responded by saying it was properly maintained.

The club statement reads: “A recent match report quoted the Spalding United team manager as criticising the state of the Sir Halley Stewart pitch and suggested that South Holland Council were not looking after the pitch properly.

“We are pleased to make it clear that the council does look after the Halley Stewart pitch properly, and supports the club well.

“It was in fact the welcome and growing use of the pitch by both the first and reserve teams, and our youth teams, combined with a wet and frosty spell of weather, which caused the problem.

“As a growing club with a renewed commitment to putting our local community and sports development at the heart of what we do, we value the strong partnership we have with South Holland District Council, and wish for it to continue and grow for the benefit of the people of Spalding and the club.”