Tulips pay price for missed chances

Sport News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk/sport, @FreePressSport on Twitter
Sport News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk/sport, @FreePressSport on Twitter
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Sutton Coldfield Town 2 Spalding United 0

It should have been a different story.

Instead this will be a tale of what might have been for Spalding United.

The Tulips created chances, missed them, went behind to a set-piece and conceded again late on.

Overall the performance was pretty positive - particularly before the break.

Although the second-half display offered little prospect of a fightback, Spalding were solid with signs of encouragement for the next few months.

The opening day was always going to be a tough test against Sutton Coldfield Town who know what this division is all about, despite having a new-look squad.

In five of the last six seasons, the Royals have finished in sixth place - just missing out a play-off spot.

The newly-promoted Tulips, though, are fancied “to be right up there” as home manager Neil Tooth wrote in his programme notes.

Coming up as United Counties League champions, they already have plenty of experience at a higher level.

The spine of the side is strong with centre-backs Kern Miller and Nathan Stainfield behind midfield pair Michael Leary and Lewis Webb.

However, this time Spalding were without prolific striker Andrew Tidswell and you would have expected him to convert at least one of those early opportunities which fell to Jordan Thomas.

After only three minutes Thomas tried to lob the ball over keeper Lee Evans but it was a comfortable catch.

Around the half-hour mark there was a better chance as Chris Hall’s powerful run ended with a pass which put Thomas clean through, only to smash the shot off Evans.

In between Hall had been unfortunate to see a header crash off the crossbar following Adam Jackson’s left-wing cross.

Those moments proved crucial when poor defending allowed Jordan Tunnicliffe to head home Tom Turton’s corner three minutes before half-time.

Spalding struggled to pose a real threat in the final third after the interval.

However, five minutes after being pushed up front, Chris Hall fired over and soon afterwards Leary’s penalty appeal was rejected.

Towards the end Mitch Griffiths and Stainfield both sent headers off target.

But by that stage it would have been too little, too late because Justin Richards held off Miller to roll in Sutton Coldfield’s second goal with seven minutes left.

Last season Spalding only failed to win two away league games - but it won’t be that easy this term.

In the UCL they could afford to miss a couple of chances, knowing more would come along.

The Tulips will need to improve and, who knows, there might be something to cheer when they return to play on the 3G pitch at Coles Lane against Romulus on the final day of the campaign.

SUTTON COLDFIELD TOWN

4-4-2: Evans; Kolanji, Tunnicliffe, Male, Gonzales; Taylor, McNaught, O’Callaghan (sub Leek 61 mins), Turton; Richards (sub Clarke 85 mins), Robinson (sub Edwards 76 mins). Subs not used: Walker, Gwilliams.

SPALDING UNITED

4-4-2: Roberts 6; Bore 7, Miller 7, N Stainfield 7, Jackson 7; Hall 7, Leary 7, Webb 7, Thurlbourne 7; Thomas 5 (sub Waumsley 79 mins), Burbeary 5 (sub Griffiths 55 mins, 6). Subs not used: G Stainfield, McKue, Ebdon.

REFEREE

Simon Gudger

GOALS

Tunnicliffe (42 mins, 1-0); Richards (83 mins, 2-0).

BOOKING

Kolanji (re-enter play without permission).

ATTENDANCE

102

STAR MAN

Chris Hall - always looked a threat.