SPALDING UNITED 1 (Doherty 78) BLABY & WHETSTONE ATHLETIC 2 (Gordon 18 & 79): PAT Rayment admitted his Spalding side were well below par as Blaby delivered an FA Cup shock on Saturday.
The Tulips boss had targeted a lengthy run in this year’s competition, but a Jermaine Gordon double dumped them out at the earliest opportunity.
Kieran Doherty looked to have salvaged at least a replay with goal on his competitive debut, but in the end some pretty sub-standard defending cost the UCL Premier Division title favourites dear.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Rayment. “We came into the game in good form, but there was no spark.
“Three or four of the lads looked lethargic and the defending was horrific.
“I’ve got to admit, I didn’t see this coming.”
Spalding started well enough, with Luke Kennedy firing an effort over inside 60 seconds. But the early promise fizzled out, and Blaby grabbed an opener with their first attempt of the game.
A swift break down the left saw Ryan Hawker in way too much space – and he picked out Gordon, who bundled a scrappy goal home at the second attempt.
The Tulips bossed what remained of the opening period, with Franny Green firing a free kick over and Doherty side-footing just wide from six yards after a Miles Chamberlain cross.
It was pretty forgettable stuff after the interval though, as Spalding resorted to pumping aimless long balls forward.
The introduction of striker Shane Tolley did provide a boost, but the ace hitman and fellow sub Ash Stevens did conspire to miss a glaring chance.
Stevens really should have buried a cracking cross from the right, but his flying header from six yeards out cannoned off team-mate Tolley and flew wide.
Still, Spalding looked to have gotten themselves out of jail when Doherty slammed home a low equaliser 12 minutes from time.
The ex-King’s Lynn Town enforcer clinically picked out the bottom left corner with a powerful effort from eight yards.
However, Spalding’s fans had little time to savour the leveller, with Gordon – who’d been dangerous all afternoon – capitalising on more weak defending to slide home what proved to be the winner straight from the re-start.
With less than a week until their UCL Premier Division opener against Kempston, the shock defeat leaves the Tulips will plenty of food for thought.
The defeat was also Ben Good’s last game for the club, with Rayment confirming he’s released him.
Tulips: Conroy, Bull, Earls, Chamberlain, Canoville (c), Kennedy, Green (James 72), Doherty, Joyce (Stevens 46), Good (Tolley 60), Steadman. Not used: Fuff, Musgrove, Drury.
• Saturday: Tulips v Kempston Rovers (3pm).