LONG BUCKBY 2 (Dunkley 58, Koriya 73) SPALDING UNITED 1 (O’Loughlin 4): RARELY will a team ever be satisfied with a defeat, but the Tulips pushed unbeaten UCL Premier Division title favourites Long Buckby all the way on Saturday.
Ryan O’Loughlin’s stunning 35-yard strike gave Spalding a shock half-time lead at Station Road, only for Russ Dunkley and Fazel Koriya to hit back and make it a flawless ten wins from ten for the hosts.
Although his side have now gone a month without a win in the league, Tulips boss Andy Stanhope saw plenty of positives.
He said: “A loss is a loss, but if we put that kind of effort in against the lesser teams we’d be much higher up the table.
“I thought we defended superbly and had enough chances to get something from the game. But they’re a good side and it wasn’t surprising that they came back at us.
“Tom James was outstanding and is showing exactly why I signed him, while Alex Lyon did very well at left back.
“We’ve got a massive month ahead now and need to get some positive results.”
Stanhope’s charges were down to the bare bones for their toughest game of the season so far.
But O’Loughlin gave them the perfect start as he powered his first Spalding goal into Tom Stephanou’s top corner from impressive range.
The left sider was inches away from doubling the visitors’ money too, but he fired wide after Liam Harrold’s flick on.
Greg Ling hit the post at the other end, but Spalding’s defence was superbly marshalled by skipper Glen Fuff and they held firm up until the 58th minute.
That’s when the prolific Dunkley rose to bury a towering header – and from then on The Bucks were always favourites.
The winning goal was another of real quality, with Koriya skinning Simon Ashton before unleashing a superb curling effort into the corner from the tightest of angles.
Tulips: Conroy, Duncliffe, Lyon, Thompson, Fuff, Ashton, French, Earls, Harrold (Harris 67), O’Loughlin, James. Not used: Ford, Hussey.
• Saturday: Tulips v Northampton Spencer (3pm).