SUTTON TOWN 1 SPALDIING UTD 5: Spalding could be forgiven for dreaming of Wembley after booking their place in the last 32 of the FA Vase in stunning style on Saturday.
The Tulips played for 76 minutes with ten men after seeing Kieran Doherty sent off at Sutton, but a Luke Kennedy hat-trick and TJ Nightingale’s double eased them through.
Pat Rayment’s side will now visit Ely City in the next round – and are just four wins away from a final at the home of English football.
Player/coach Danny Hussey paid tribute to the gutsy display – and reckons they have a good chance of going all the way in the competition.
He said: “It looked like we had 12 men on the pitch, not ten. It was a dominant display.
“They are a big side, but we matched them physically – and when we started playing our football, they couldn’t live with us. Not many teams can.
“For me, it was our best performance of the season yet.
“There are some very strong teams left, Spennymoor for example. But you’ve got to be in it to win it and we’re still there.”
On a tricky pitch, Spalding made a much better start against their step seven opponents and deservedly went ahead when Kennedy notched from the penalty spot on 23 minutes.
The Tulips’ lead lasted just 60 seconds, with Nathan Hollingworth levelling from another penalty. Doherty, who conceded the spot kick, was harshly dismissed .
Undeterred, Kennedy doubled his money on 37 minutes from a Nightingale pass, before the latter made it 3-1 a minute later after rounding the keeper.
Striker Nightingale then bagged number four 11 minutes into the second period after a neat interchange with Kennedy.
There was still time for midfield maestro Kennedy to complete a top treble (74) with a crisp volley from a Dan Cotton cross, capping a man-of-the-match display.
Tulips: Drury, Doherty, Freeman, Chamberlain, Fuff, Kennedy, Cotton, Steadman, Battersby (Joyce 60), Nightingale (Smedley 75), Cotton. Not used: Hussey, McCready.
• Saturday: Spalding Utd v Shepshed Dynamo (3pm); Boxing Day: Holbeach Utd v Spalding Utd.