WEEKEND PREVIEW: Tulips face leaders, Orrey back for Tigers

Spalding United v Barwell (Saturday, 3pm): IT doesn’t get any easier for the relegation-threatened Tulips.

Runaway Evo-Stik First Division South leaders Barwell are poised to hammer another nail in the coffin of Andy Stanhope’s side in this top versus bottom encounter.

Spalding go into the game a colossal 49 points behind their opponents – and they are now 12 points from safety after midweek wins for rivals Leek Town and Market Drayton.

Four key players – Matt Kennedy, Ben Denham, Josh Nodder and Jason Keale – all face fitness tests ahead of the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field clash too.

But with ten games still to play, club legend Stanhope is refusing to give up on the season just yet.

The Tulips boss said: “I watched Barwell on Tuesday night (won 1-0 at Stamford) and they’re a strong, disciplined side.

“I also heard about the other results, but we can’t do anything about that. There’s still two months of the season left and we have to concentrate on ourselves.

“There’s a lot more confidence in the side after the Sheffield win and hopefully we’ll take that into Saturday’s game.”

Stanhope has added ex-Tulip Nathan Iley to his squad ahead of the clash, but he’s unavailable for the Barwell clash.

Grimsby-based Iley, who has a background in boxing, could feature in Tuesday’s re-arranged (7.45pm) trip to Quorn though.

• FOLLOW us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LFPSport for live updates from the Spalding v Barwell game.

Irchester United v Holbeach United (Saturday, 3pm)

STRIKER Lee Orrey returns for this tough-looking trip to sixth-placed Ircherster.

Orrey’s comeback is timely, with new signing Tommy Treacher ineligible and on-loan striker Simon Mowbray now back at Stamford.

The Tigers’ first league win of the season came in the reverse fixture back in October – and boss John Chand is hoping to secure a double against a side promoted as Division One champions last year.

He said: “Beating Irchester last time was probably the stand-out result of our season.

“We’re certainly capable of beating them again, but it’s a tough place to go.

“They try and play football in the right way and have some really good players.”

Holbeach, who go into the game just four points clear of the drop zone, will have to do without the suspended Wes Lewis and unavailable Adam Broom. Matt Warfield also faces a late fitness test.

Hosts Irchester come into the game with a record of just two wins in their past six games, but they still harbour hopes of a top four finish.