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FOOTBALL: First win of 2018 for Spalding United

Conor Marshall was named man of the match
Conor Marshall was named man of the match

Spalding United turned in a five-star performance to secure three points thanks to a superbly-delivered free-kick by Danny Brooks.

It was their first victory on the road since October, also ending a six-game winless run in 2018 and gaining sweet revenge for the 3-1 home defeat inflicted by Kidsgrove Athletic on January 27.

That game saw newly-appointed captain Gary King pick up a red card for his birthday and on Saturday there was a repeat performance.

Returning after a three-match ban, King was a second-half replacement for the injured Jonny Lockie but two cautions in as many minutes - the first for needlessly kicking the ball away and the second for retaliating to a fierce tackle - left his team-mates to battle out the remaining quarter of the game in challenging conditions.

The Tulips had suffered a setback before kick-off with vice-captain Neal Spafford injured in the warm-up.

The ever-reliable Ellis Humble stepped up from the bench to cover the void and Ben Davison took the armband.

To a man the Tulips were superb - giving their all to achieve their aim - and they did it by playing some great football, creating chances from the start and denying the home attack time and time again.

The usual threat of Anthony Malbon and Lee Cropper got the full respect that they demanded, so much so that Malbon departed the scene after just 38 minutes.

Understandably after going a player down, the pressure began to show.

On a very sticky pitch, saturated by heavy overnight rain, Kidsgrove began to take advantage but they were denied by the heroics of goalkeeper Michael Duggan who pulled off some super saves - particularly as the game went into stoppage-time.

Kidsgrove had the first scoring opportunity after just seven minutes when Cropper broke free but his close-range shot was way off target.

Three minutes later, Davison had the ball in the net following a neat inter-change between Tom Siddons and Conor Marshall but the effort was disallowed for offside.

Brooks’ 30-yard free-kick was pushed away by Dave Parton and this was quickly followed by Siddons testing the keeper while Jenk Acar also went close following a trademark jinking run.

The deadlock was finally broken on 34 minutes from just outside the area. This time the keeper stood no chance as Brooks’ strike, the ball never more than a few inches above the turf, flashed round the wall and into the net.

The second half saw much of the same with the Tulips generally dictating the pattern of play.

Things got a little harder following the dismissal of King but chances were still being created.

Matt Varley fed a good pass through to Marshall whose shot was palmed away by Parton.

Siddons and Davison both had efforts cleared from the line by Charlie Duke while at the other end Duggan foiled Kyle Diskin with a flying save and in added time he pulled off two more spectacular saves to keep a clean sheet and complete a memorable victory.

Spalding: Duggan, Fixter, Hugo, Varley, Davison, Humble, Marshall, Brooks, Siddons (sub White 84 mins), Lockie (sub King h-t), Acar. Sub not used: Smith.


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