Ten-man Spalding United lost their 100 per cent United Counties League premier division record this afternoon when they were beaten 2-1 at the Sir Halley Stewart Field by an inspired AFC Rushden and Diamonds outfit.
Meanwhile, Holbeach United made it nine games without defeat but threw away a 2-0 half time lead as they drew 2-2 at on-form Harborough Town, while Deeping Rangers went down 3-1 at Yaxley in an evening game on Friday the 13th.
There was some good news, however, as struggling Bourne Town recorded a magnificent 5-0 victory at relegation rivals Bugbrooke St Michaels in division one of the UCL.
Spalding’s best crowd of the season – 411 – gathered to see the visit of Rushden this afternoon and the visitors started impressively as they showed they were not coming just to help the Tulips extend their league record of 17 wins out of 17 this season.
Diamonds gave notice of their intentions after 10 minutes when burly dangerman Russ Dunkley stabbed just wide. But seven minutes later, disaster struck for Spalding when Nathan Stainfield brought down Dunkley in the box, Matt Gearing stroked home the penalty and the Tulips defender was red carded.
Rushden then piled on the pressure as Micheal Duggan first saved a scorching Aaron King free kick and then made a double save to deny the attacking midfielder.
Spalding were offering little as they struggled to regroup after the sending off, and were dealt a killer blow right on half time when former King’s Lynn and Long Buckby midfielder Richard Bunting ran on to a Dunkley flick on from a long ball and squeezed his shot under the advancing Duggan for 2-0.
Spalding’s first shot on target did not come until the 57th minute, when Jamie Thurlbourne’s low drive was saved for a corner. From the set piece Jon Fairweather struck the grounded Andy Tidswell on the line.
Thurlbourne was then denied again before Tidswell twice superbly trapped long balls on his chest, turned and volleyed. The first went harmlessly wide but the second struck the post from 30 yards as the Tulips sensed their chance.
But Spalding were often leaving just two at the back and Dunkley nearly sealed the points in the 74th minute, only for Duggan to again save superbly from his powerful, looping header.
Fairweather then put a free header over the bar before captain Jamie Stevens poked in following a goalmouth melee two minutes from time.But Diamonds held on for the victory they and their travelling army of fans deserved.
On Friday evening Deeping’s title tilt suffered a setback as they were outplayed by a fired up Yaxley side at In2Itive Park. Yaxley took a 12th minute lead through Ollie Gale’s far post header. Before Deeping could recover the home advantage was doubled, former Spalding and Holbeach midfielder Rob Hughes latching onto a clearance and firing beyond Doughty from twenty yards.
Rangers were back in the game on 26 minutes, Mitch Griffiths netting with a well placed shot from Heron’s header back across goal, but the home win was secured after 62 minutes when ex-Holbeach striker Jamie Graham took a return pass from Liam Hook to shoot just inside the far post.
United Counties League premier division: AFC Kempston Rovers 2,Peterborough Northern Star 2; Boston Town 4, Northampton Sileby Rangers 0; Cogenhoe United 3, Desborough Town 1; Harborough Town 2, Holbeach United 2; Newport Pagnell Town 0, Sleaford Town 1; Spalding United 1, AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2; Stewarts & Lloyds Corby 1, Wisbech Town 6; Wellingborough Town 6, Long Buckby AFC 0; Yaxley 3, Deeping Rangers 1.
Division One: Bugbrooke St Michaels 0, Bourne Town 5; Eynesbury Rovers 0, Burton Park Wanderers 1; Lutterworth Athletic 2, Buckingham Town 1; Northampton ON Chenecks 6, Woodford United 0; Oadby Town 2, Blackstones 2; Peterborough Sports 1, Irchester United 2; Rothwell Corinthians 1, Wellingborough Whitworth 2; Rushden and Higham United 1, Harrowby United 4; St Neots Town Saints 1, Northampton Spencer 1; Thrapston Town 1, Olney Town 6.
Peterborough League premier division: Coates Athletic 2, Sawtry 1;Deeping Rangers Reserves 1, Whittlesey United 1; Oakham United 0, Uppingham Town 1; Ramsey Town 0, Pinchbeck United 1.
County Cup: Crowland Town 1, North Somercotes United 3; Gainsborough Town 0, Moulton Harrox 1.
League Cup: King’s Lynn Town Reserves 1, Thorney 2; Parson Drove 92 5, Whittlesey Blue Star 1; Stilton United 3, Leverington Sports 5.
Division One: Stamford Belvedere 1, Long Sutton Athletic 2.
League Cup: AFC Stanground 6, Sutton Bridge United 1; Holbeach United Reserves 4, Oundle Town 0.
Division Two: Guyhirn 1, Crowland Town Reserves 6; Long Sutton Athletic Reserves 1, Langtoft United Reserves 1; Peterborough ICA Sports ‘A’ 2, Baston 2; Pinchbeck United Reserves 3, Ramsey Town Reserves 1; Whittlesey United Reserves 2, Gedney Hill 2.
Division Four: Baston Reserves 3, Leverington Sports ‘A’ 0; Glinton United 1, Spalding Town 1; Pinchbeck United ‘A’ 5, Stamford Belvedere Reserves 2; Sutton Bridge United Reserves 1, Peterborough Sports ‘A’ 12; Tydd St Mary 4, AFC Peterborough 4.
Division Five: Parkway Eagles Reserves 1, Tydd St Mary Reserves 3; Whaplode Drove 1, Powerleague FC 3.