A stunning late strike from Stuart Cunnington fired Spalding 1st into the semi-finals of the National England Hockey Vase competition on Sunday.
The club’s leading scorer fired an incredibly accurate shot into the side netting at Glen Park to settle a five-goal thriller with Phoenix and Ranelagh 1st 3-2 in Spalding’s favour.
Hosts Spalding went into the last eight clash on a high, having won 11 matches on the trot – but they struggled to get going early on.
It took a moment of brilliance from Cunnington to break the deadlock, as he beat three defenders and rifled an effort off the post on ten minutes, allowing Russ Watts to fire in the rebound.
The lead was short lived, as a defensive error allowed Phoenix a two-on-one attack – and they made no mistake.
Phoenix, who had players sin-binned either side of half time, then went ahead from a drag flick penalty corner.
However, Spalding were not to be outdone and some fine work by Rob Dalton out on the right earned them a penalty corner. The play was excellently worked and finished by Cunnington to make it 2-2 with nine minutes to play.
Not done there, more excellent play by Dalton saw him go past three Phoenix players on the right-hand side before laying it off to Cunnington, who couldn’t have placed his shot better into the corner of the goal.
Despite a tense finale, Spalding held on to gain a deserved victory and will now host Basingstoke in the last four on March 23.