TULIPS: Spalding ready for season’s finale

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SPALDING United’s disappointing campaign comes to a close over Easter with three games in five days.

The Tulips conclude their home schedule with the visits of high-flying St Ives Town (Saturday, 3pm) and Peterborough Northern Star (Monday, 3pm), before visiting rivals Holbeach United on Wednesday (7.45pm).

Having started the season as second favourites for the UCL Premier Division title, Spalding are unlikely to finish in the top ten.

But ambitious boss Pat Rayment, who took over from sacked Andy Stanhope in January, isn’t losing any sleep over the past few months.

His job effectively starts next Thursday, when preparations for next season will firmly get under way.

“The way I see it, it’s three games and five days until the big job begins,” admitted Rayment.

“Obviously I want the lads to be 100 per cent committed and expect us to compete, but we’ve had an incredibly hard run-in.”

The final trio of fixtures begins against third-placed St Ives – a team Rayment rates highly. Tom James returns to the squad against a Saints side unbeaten in six games.

Rayment added: “I rate St Ives in the same bracket as (top two) King’s Lynn and Long Buckby, they’re that good.

“It’s another tough test for the lads, but one they should be relishing.”

Easter Monday is the final Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field date of the season, with city rivals PNS looking to complete a double over the Tulips.

Leading scorer Greg Smith returns for the derby, but Ricky Miller is still banned.

Rayment said: “I can’t praise PNS enough. What they’ve done on that budget is almost unprecedented.”