Rainworth MW 2 Spalding United 0: ANDY Stanhope feels his Tulips have come “a million miles” in the past two weeks, but admitted that this defeat on Tuesday night is a massive blow to their survival hopes.
Max Wright struck in each half to pull Rainworth clear of the Evo-Stik League First Division South relgation dogfight – and leave Spalding with ten games to rescue their Step Four status.
Points-wise, the Tulips’ 23rd league defeat of the season changes nothing, as they remain nine points from safety.
But Stanhope, who has lost seven and won just one of his eight games in charge, accepts that time is not on Spalding’s side.
He said: “We played well and certainly deserved something from the game.
“Two weeks ago we would have collapsed in this kind of game, especially after the first goal. The lads kept on going and stuck together. The past two games have been a million miles better.
“But at this stage of the season it’s not about performances, we need results – and quickly. I’m not wasting time looking at the table, but time is against us.”
Spalding started the crunch clash well, but suffered a set-back after just 18 minutes when striker Matt Kennedy limped off with a recurrence of a thigh injury. He could miss up to three weeks.
Hosts Rainworth then grabbed the all-important opener, with Kyle Gee-Pemberton capitalising on a poor pass from Stuart Goosey and crossing for Wright to power home.
The Tulips had their chances, with Corey Carruthers twice going close and Josh Nodder testing the keeper.
But Wright sealed the win in the dying seconds, leaving Spalding with fresh rivals in the race for survival.
They are now chasing Leek Town and Market Drayton Town, who are 20th and 19th respectively on 23 points.
Both have played fewer games than Stanhope’s charges, but also have to visit the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field before the end of the season.
Next up for the Tulips is a trip to Quorn on Saturday (3pm) – with Stanhope “confident” of taking something from the game.
Tulips: Thackery, Keale (Self 72), Brewer, Goosey (Freeman 84), Pawson, Holding, Curruthers, Thompson, Kennedy (Outram 18), Shahin, Nodder. Not used: Chappell.
GOALS: Rainworth - Wright (34 & 90)
• SHEFFIELD FC boss Chris Dolby handed in his resignation after seeing his side lose 3-2 to Spalding last Saturday.
• Spalding’s remaining Evo-Stik 1S fixtures: Saturday - Quorn (a); March 5 - Barwell (h); March 12 - Kidsgrove Ath (h); March 19 - Market Drayton (h); March 26 - Kidsgrove Ath (a); April 2 - Leek Town (h); April 9 - Loughborough Dyn (a); April 16 - Rainworth MW (h); April 23 - Sutton Coldfield Tn (a); April 25 - Carlton Town (h).