TULIPS: Down after 28th league defeat of season

Uncertain future: Spalding boss Andy Stanhope is set for crunch talks with Chris Toynton after the Tulips' relegation was confirmed.
Uncertain future: Spalding boss Andy Stanhope is set for crunch talks with Chris Toynton after the Tulips' relegation was confirmed.

Kidsgrove Athletic 3 Spalding Utd 1: AFTER seven years at step four of the Non-League ladder, this defeat saw Spalding relegated from Evo-Stik League First Division South with five games still to play.

Despite delivering one of their more encouraging away displays of the season at second-placed Kidsgrove, the Tulips’ fate was all but sealed by three first-half strikes.

Josh Nodder did pull one back late on with a superb 25-yard strike, but Andy Stanhope’s men failed to deliver the victory that would have kept their faint survival hopes alive.

Barring any kind of league technicality, Spalding will now play in the United Counties League (UCL) next season.

But perhaps the more pressing issue is the future of managerial duo Stanhope and Bob Don-Duncan.

Club legend Stanhope told the Free Press that he would need to sit down with chairman Chris Toynton before making any decision.

He said: “Mathematically we are down, but you never quite know in this league.

“Nothing has been decided about next season yet, I’ll have to sit down with the chairman and see what his plans are.

“The table doesn’t lie though and the simple fact is that we haven’t been good enough all season.

“Myself and Bob don’t want to be in charge of a side that is bottom of the table year in, year out.

“We both know what it takes to win titles at this level and that’s where we want to be with the club. Whatever happens, the club needs to make a better start to the season.

“If we’re staying, we need to get things done quickly, teams will already be building for next year.”

The defeat was Spalding’s 28th from 37 league games this season and they have yet to win away from home in 19 attempts.

Nobody has scored fewer (32 goals) or conceded more than them (110) in the league.

Tulips: Cook, Chappell (Thompson), Lyon, Baker, Pawson, Currithers (Nodder), Warner, Ingram, Self, Outram, Kennedy (Holding).

Goals: Kidsgrove - Charlton 5, Haddrell 19, Ward 34. Tulips - Nodder 83.

• Saturday: Tulips v Leek Town (3pm).