TULIPS: Stan sets sights on survival

Fighting talk: Andy Stanhope is aiming to beat relegation.
Fighting talk: Andy Stanhope is aiming to beat relegation.

Shepshed Dynamo 5 Spalding Utd 1: IF ANDY Stanhope didn’t realise the size of his task at Spalding, he does now.

The former Tulips skipper, who became the club’s 16th manager in 11 years on Monday, saw his new side plummet to the bottom of the table after this mauling on Tuesday night

Before a ball was kicked Shepshed were the only side below Spalding in the Evo-Stik League First Division South.

Stanhope’s charges did take an early lead through Matty O’Neill, but they are now four points from safety after being hit for five.

But the new boss, who had to contend with a mass player exodus (see story, right), has no regrets over his decision to replace Richard Scott at the helm – and immediately set his sights on survival.

Stanhope said: “We’d all like to take jobs amid different circumstances, but I have a lot of feeling for the club and won’t let Spalding sink without a fight.

“Perhaps the opportunity came sooner than I’d have liked, but that’s football.

“This game is one to forget, I had to scratch around and call in some favours just to raise a team.

“If I didn’t think the club could stay up I wouldn’t have taken the job. People who say relegation to the UCL would be a good thing are wrong.

“The UCL is not the same as it was five years ago, there is so much money down there now and the competition is fierce.

“There are still plenty of points left to play for this season, so there’s still time.”

Just 24 hours after his appointment as boss, Stanhope endured a baptism of fire at Butt Hole Lane.

Only four of the first team squad he inherited from Scott – Gary Pawson, David de Oliveira and keepers Jamie Brassington and Max Flintoft – made themselves available for selection.

Boston United loanees Harry Deane and Mickey Stones were among the players drafted in, as was ex-Holbeach United striker Gary Nimmo.

In what was undoubtedly Spalding’s biggest game of the season, the returning O’Neill – who hadn’t featured at the club since Alan Biley’s second stint as boss – put the away side ahead early on.

The pacy wideman latched onto a Nimmo pass to fire home – but he was later forced off with an ankle injury.

The goal proved a false dawn though, as Shepshed hit back to lead 2-1 at the break through Dean Oliver and Sean Cann.

It got worse for the Tulips after the break, as Simon Bolland, Billy Stubbs and ex-Tulip Rob Norris completed the rout for Dynamo.

To compound the second half misery, Stones pulled a hamstring and faces a spell on the sidelines.

Tulips: Brassington, Freeney, Kirby, Pawson, Greetham, Drury, O’Neill (Shaw), Stones (Donachy), Deane, Nimmo, de Oliveira. Not used - Flintoft.

Sat - Tulips v Belper Town (3pm); Tues - Lincoln Utd v Tulips (7.45pm).