Spalding United 1 Barwell 2: A HORRIBLE day at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field delivered an equally awful game as the Tulips took another step towards their now inevitable relegation.
Freezing conditions and relentless rain made for a drab spectacle on Saturday, as Spalding suffered a 24th Evo-Stik League First Division South loss off the campaign.
Blockbuster goals in either half from Scott Hadland and Jai Stanley were enough for runaway leaders Barwell, although a late Corey Carruthers strike did set up a grandstand finish.
You would never have guessed that this was a top versus bottom tussle – but with the sands of time against Spalding, such praise is of little significance.
To be fair to to the table toppers they were always in full command of proceedings, despite missing a host of regular players.
Andy Stanhope’s Spalding defended resolutely, but offered little as an attacking force.
They stay 12 points from safety with just nine games left to play.
Tulips supremo Stanhope said: “I was happy enough with the display, but it’s all about getting points on the board at this stage of the season. The best teams get results no matter how they play and that’s what we need to do now.”
Stanhope handed a surprise debut to defender Shaun Baker, who has been with Holbeach United this season.
But his inclusion was the only talking point of first half that was devoid of any quality. Barwell skipper Hadland delivered the one and only memorable moment, blasting home the opener after a scramble on the edge of the box.
It was more of the same after the break – and it took 68 minutes for Jake Thompson to register the Tulips’ first shot on target with a weak effort from the edge of the box.
The last quarter of an hour did pick up, as Stanley looked to have settled matters with a lashed second from 25-yards.
Carruthers did pull one back after rounding away stopper Liam Castle, but it was Barwell who looked the more likely to add to their tally. Striker Nigel Julian was particularly profligate in front of goal, spurning a spree of golden opportunities.
Although Barwell bossed the game, Spalding skipper Gary Pawson – who put in a titanic display at the back – did not deserve to be on the losing side.
Tulips: Thackery, Keale (Chapple 46), Brewer (Lyon 63), Baker, Holding, Pawson, Carruthers, Thompson, Kennedy, Shahin, Self. Not used: Eustace, Outram, Freeman.
• Tonight – Quorn v Tulips (7.45pm); Sat – Tulips v Kidsgrove Ath (3pm).