‘World-class save’ keeps point for Spalding United

Michael Duggan
Michael Duggan
  • Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South - Loughborough Dynamo 2 Spalding United 2
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A super save right out of the top drawer by Michael Duggan ensured that Spalding United returned from Loughborough on Saturday with a share of the points.

With the scores level and with only minutes of the game remaining, Duggan launched himself to turn a stinging close-range drive by Dynamo substitute Alfie Taylor inches wide of his far post – a save which director of football Bob Don-Duncan described as world-class: “Equal to anything you will see at the highest level of competition anywhere in the world.”

Had the home team scored, it would have been an injustice following a sterling second-half display by the Tulips after conceding two goals in a very lacklustre and uninspiring first 45 minutes.

Their second-half display, however, on a perfectly prepared ‘bowling green’ quality pitch, was a complete transformation with the side well in control and dominating huge chunks of the play.

Left-back Adam Jackson reduced the deficit on 67 minutes with a perfectly weighted lofted delivery from 35 yards which sailed past home keeper James Martin into a top corner – a goal which brought moans from some quarters as a ‘fluke’. It was anything but as two similar efforts by Jackson in recent games had been foiled by the crossbar and a goalline clearance.

Jamie Graham, a 63rd-minute replacement for Charley Sanders, bagged the equaliser with 15 minutes remaining with a firm far-post header from a cross by Josh Moreman who had picked up a loose ball following a determined burst through the home defence by man-of-the-match Nathan Stainfield.

Despite their below-par opening half, the Tulips did create scoring opportunities, the best from Dan Banister who rattled the woodwork after seven minutes and straight after Moreman’s effort was blocked by the Loughborough goalkeeper.

But it was the home team who snatched the advantage on 10 minutes with the lively and tricky Kevin Hemagou turning defenders on their heels to give Duggan no chance.

Nine minutes later the same player increased the home lead and relegation-threatened Dynamo were dancing.

Tulips boss Marcus Ebdon made a tactical change after 28 minutes with Kieron Davies making way for Tom Waumsley and last season’s leading scorer forced Martin to save at the second attempt.

The away dressing room was “very vocal” during the interval, the result being very productive, leading to a much-needed improvement on the pitch.

But the Tulips were almost immediately forced into another team change when influential central defender Neal Spafford limped off with a ligament injury which will keep him out of action for up to six weeks. Ellis Humble was a very competent replacement.

Martin palmed Stainfield’s effort over the bar before Jackson reduced arrears and the inspired Tulips began to take a firm grip on proceedings.

Graham brought parity to the scoreline but despite more goalmouth activity the Tulips could not get another
goal that their second-half display deserved.

Spalding: Duggan, Walker, Jackson, Spafford (sub Humble 55 mins), Stainfield, Murphy, Banister, Lawlor, Sanders (sub Graham 63 mins), Moreman, Davies (sub Waumsley 29 mins). Sub not used: Lee.