Double delight for county champions

Spalding men's first team were crowned county champions
Spalding men's first team were crowned county champions

Spalding ladies and men’s teams were crowned county champions on a weekend to remember.

The ladies won the Lincolnshire title for the third time in the last four years and the men followed that up on Sunday.

As defending champions, Spalding opened the County Championship finals slowly against a strong Lincoln side from a league higher.

However, they soon got to grips with the pace of the game which flowed from end to end.

It was the hosts who took the lead before half-time but Spalding battled hard to keep in the game.

Following positional changes during the break, Spalding pushed forward and pinned Lincoln back.

The pressure was rewarded 
when skipper Kelly Tuplin equalised with a well-struck short corner.

This gave Spalding a lift and they created several 
opportunities to take the lead but were thwarted by a 
combination of good keeping and excellent defensive play.

It took a moment of magic from Katie Gray who collected 
the ball just inside the Lincoln 
half and went past two 
defenders and the keeper to slot home with two minutes remaining.

Encouraged by their win, Spalding started strongly against Long Sutton in this round robin tournament.

Spalding kept possession for long periods of the half in which they pushed Long 
Sutton on the defensive.

Kate Murray was outstanding in defence and linked well with Sarah Gauntlet in midfield who dictated the pace of the game. It was no surprise when Gray broke down the line and played the ball to 
Tuplin who finished well.

Spalding continued to dominate for long periods in the second half and would have increased the lead but for the brave keeping of England 
international Lorraine Wallis.

The next day Spalding men opened their campaign with a 10-0 win over Alford.

Connor Allen and Stuart Cunnington found the net in the opening few minutes.

Further goals from Michael Morris, Harry Vickers and Mark Riley gave Spalding a comfortable 5-0 lead at the 
interval.

It was more of the same in the second half with Alford rarely troubling the Spalding defence and a hat-trick from Russell Watts and further strikes from Allen and Cunnington pushed the scoreline into double figures.

Long Sutton had received a bye in the first round but the warm-up game had helped Spalding who started strongly 
in the semi-final.

Skipper Josh Rowbottom was commanding in midfield as Spalding tested the Sutton defence with some swift interpassing.

A great reverse stick strike from Cunnington put Spalding ahead midway through the first half and Sutton were on the back foot until half-time.

Following the break, Spalding kept a tight grip on the game with Sam Howitt and Brendan Morris outstanding in defence.

Following some excellent
 work by Allen, Vickers 
finished well from a tight 
angle to make it 2-0.

Spalding opened the final slowly against Brigg and went a goal down after just five 
minutes with a well-taken goal from a speculative through-ball.

This woke the Spalding lads up and they were level when Allen cooly converted a penalty stroke.

Just before the break 
Cunnington broke through and made it 2-1 to Spalding.

In a sensational start to the second half, Allen and Riley scored within the opening few minutes to put Spalding 4-1 ahead and in full command.

Brigg added a second but in the final minute a neat passing move between cousins Michael and Brendan Morris ended with the latter scoring a rare goal.

The Spalding lads will be put to the test this weekend when they attend the Premier League Umpires Tournament 
against Premier A teams 
including Bedford and hosts St Albans.