Spalding snatch late draw against Pinchbeck at Knight Street
It was very much a case of so near, yet so far, for Pinchbeck United after they come close to a surprise friendly win over Spalding United at Knight Street.
A game of the lodgers versus the tenants, in terms of both teams using the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field for their league and cup games, the Knights played like a team with no fear against their Step 4 opponents.
In fact, had Tulips' new signing Joel Brownhill not lashed home a late equaliser with virtually the last kick of the game, it would have been a team with no manager going home with the South Holland bragging rights.
Drilled by first team coach Alfie Tate to be tight and disciplined against opponents who would enjoy much of the possession, the Knights were not prepared to give an inch to their visitors from the Northern Premier League South East Division.
A defensive three for Pinchbeck of Joe Cottingham, Dan Worthington and Connor Eyes, supported by wing backs Niall Hylton and Patrik Kacirek, kept everything Spalding threw at them away from Ben Martin's goal.
Yet it was the Tulips who threatened first when Lewis Brownhill's brown from a counter-attack down the right fell to Jacob Fenton who went wide with his shot.
Martin was called upon to keep out Lewis Brownhill's free kick from 25 yards out before the combination of Joel Brownhill and Ryan Flitton set up Jamie Goddard who steered his effort over the bar.
Spalding failed to make their dominant possession tell again after the first half drinks break when a Lewis Brownhill corner was glanced wide by the head of Josh Spencer.
It was then time for Pinchbeck to strike as defensive slowness from Spalding to clear their area saw a loose ball fall to Kacirek who buried it, with the help of the cross bar, past Spalding keeper Michael Duggan.
Scott Floyd's right wing cross nearly set up Ryan Flitton for a quick equaliser, only for Martin to save comfortably.
Early in the second half, Floyd put another fine cross in to the danger zone for Pinchbeck, this time it was Goddard whose header was cleared behind for a corner.
Then a Lewis Brownhill header was glanced goalwards by Tulips substitute Ben Richards, on for Josh Spencer, only for the tall Spalding defender to see his effort cleared off the line.
When Ben Greenwood pulled back one of the Knights' substitutes just outside the area, the hosts were presented with a chance to bring back memories of their last game before the United Counties League Premier Division was brought to an early end.
But unlike at Shepshed Dynamo in March, Ndreqim Krashiqi failed to find the top corner from 30 yards out as his low free kick cannoned off the Spalding wall and wide.
A flurry substitutions saw a host of Tulips youngsters come on, including Tobias Liversidge who somehow managed to skew a Joel Brownhill free kick wide from the edge of the area.
Pinchbeck must have thought the win was theirs after another Joel Brownhill free kick was shot straight down keeper Martin's throat.
But Brownhill had the last word, blasting home from the edge of the area after a number of unlucky ricochets in the Pinchbeck box.