SPALDING UNITED 1 (Smith 29) BLACKSTONES 1 (Nelson 81): ANDY Stanhope is bidding to bring in two high-profile recruits after seeing his Spalding side held to a third successive UCL Premier Division draw on Tuesday night.
Greg Smith looked to have fired the Tulips to a derby win with his 11th of the campaign, but a late Michael Nelson effort clinched Blackstones a share of the spoils.
Having only won five of their 14 league games so far, Stanhope has slapped in seven day notices of approach for Stamford’s Andy Toyne and Norwich United midfielder Kieran Doherty.
Toyne is a former Tulips captain – and could serve as a direct replacement for Rob Hughes, who is the subject of an official approach from King’s Lynn Town.
Stanhope said: “I can’t speak to either player yet, but both would make a big difference. As for Rob, everybody knows that King’s Lynn have wanted him for a while.
“We can’t compete with them financially, but we’re trying to build something here and I want him to be a part of it. It’s up to him.”
Stanhope admitted his charges were “unlucky” not to beat Stones at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field.
After making a postive start, striker Simon Mowbray fed Smith to fire a clinical far-post opener.
Stones keeper Lee Crockett then denied JP Duncliffe and Smith, before Ryan O’Loughlin clipped the bar with a dipping drive.
Nick Conroy in the Spalding goal was busier after the break, but he was finally beaten by a crisp Nelson strike nine minutes from time after a mistake from Glenn Fuff.
The goal was scored while defender Danny Hussey was off the field injured, having been elbowed in the mouth.
Although unhappy to draw for a sixth time this season, Stanhope was delighted with the atmosphere created by Spalding’s ‘blue army’ of young fans.
He added: “They are absolutely great, the players really appreciate them. I hope they can encourage more to come down and support us.”
Jammal Shahin (ban) definitely misses Saturday’s trip to Thrapston Town (3pm), while Hussey, Danny French and Hughes are all doubts.
Tulips: Conroy, Duncliffe, Earls, Hook (Thompson 73), Fuff, Hussey, Harris, Hughes, Smith, Mowbray (Harrold 87), O’Loughlin. Not used: Baker.
• Paul Taylor Electricals MOTM – Nick Conroy.