Triple bill of destiny for Spalding

Number eight Harry Brown faces a late fitness test for Spalding before their vital match against Ashbourne at Memorial Field.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
Number eight Harry Brown faces a late fitness test for Spalding before their vital match against Ashbourne at Memorial Field. Photo by Tim Wilson.
  • MIDLANDS TWO EAST (NORTH): Spalding v Ashbourne - Memorial Field, Saturday 3pm
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Spalding skipper Sam Cooke knows his side have absolutely no margin for error as they enter their last three games of what could be another wretched season.

The spectre of consecutive relegations is a serious prospect after Mansfield leapfrogged Town out of the Midlands Two (East) North drop zone with an emphatic 51-12 win over basement boys Bakewell Mannerians.

Our target has to be a win in all three games we have left to play

Spalding RFC 1st XV skipper Sam Cooke

But the Elephants should expect no favours from anyone, starting with the visit of fourth-placed Ashbourne to Memorial Field on Saturday (3pm kick-off), followed by a trip to Bakewell and a final home game against eighth-placed Coalville on April 16.

Cooke said: “It’s not at all where we want to be because we’ve battled and battled home and away all season.

“But it’s apparent to me that we need to push on and make sure that we give ourselves a fighting chance of staying up this season.

“Our target has to be a win in all three games we have left.

“But even if we lose games, we need to get some (bonus) points from each game.”

Spalding’s number eight Harry Brown is expected to have a late fitness test, but everyone else is available except for fly-half James West, who has now been ruled out for the rest of the season.

Cooke said: “We’re in a better position than we were but James West is a big miss for us because he’s a very talented player, very professional and clinical on the field.

“We’ll miss him but we’re trying a little bit harder without James, as we have to, because it’s going to be harder by not having him for the rest of the season.”

If relegation is to be avoided, Spalding must prevent the kind of slow start that saw them go 17-0 down last time out at Stamford, only to end up losing 22-19.

Cooke said: “Stamford were up for it and we were up for it. But we backed off for 20 minutes and let them in.

“Out of the three games left, we need two wins at home because it would be a massive shame to go down.”

Derby defeat for Spalding at Stamford