SPALDING UNITED 4 NEWPORT PAGNELL TOWN 1: Dan Cotton’s purple patch in front of goal continued as his double guided the Tulips to a rare UCL Premier Division double over Newport Pagnell.
Jay Smedley (21) and Gary King (23) both notched before the Spalding winger took his tally to five goals in three games with efforts on 35 and 79 minutes.
Jared Cuniffe (60) did notch a consolation for Pagnell, but Pat Rayment’s side were full value for their second 4-1 success over them this season.
Following draws against St Ives and Huntingdon Town, nothing less than three points were required by the third-placed Tulips at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field.
But it was the away side who started better, with only a stunning finger-tip save from Michael Duggan keeping out Matt Broomes’ stinging 18-yard drive.
That spurred Spalding into life and they went ahead on 21 minutes when an unmarked Smedley tapped home from a King pass.
Two minutes later the home lead was doubled. Lively hitman King was bundled over in the box – and he duly stepped up to rifle the resulting penalty past Josh McAdoo.
With the Tulips now in full flow, Cotton added to their advantage ten minutes before the break with a towering header from Tyrone Kirk’s cracking cross.
Spalding struggled to maintain their dominance in the second period – and they deservedly reduced the arrears on the hour when Cuniffe buried a well-placed header past Duggan.
Spalding winger Lee Beeson made his return from injury 13 minutes from time and he was immediately involved in the final goal of the game.
Linking well with King, he created an opening for Cotton to restore the Tulips’ three-goal cushion with a comfortable finish.
With leaders Holbeach United only able to draw, the victory moves Spalding within 20 points of the summit with five games in hand.
The first of those is at home to tenth-placed Desborough Town tonight (7.45pm).
Follow @LFPSport on Twitter for live updates from the game and see Thursday’s Spalding Guardian for a report, reaction and pictures from the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field clash.
Tulips: Duggan, Canoville, Thurlbourne, Fuff, Jacklin, Kennedy (Battersby 64), Smedley (Beeson 77), Steadman, King, Cotton, Kirk (Doherty 64). Not used:Hussey, McCready.