SPALDING UNITED 0 HOLBEACH UNITED 2 (Kennedy pen 29, Tidswell 70): JOHN Chand hailed his Tigers as they deservedly took the derby spoils on Tuesday night.
Ex-Tulips Luke Kennedy and Andrew Tidswell notched set-piece goals in each half to settle the UCL League Cup clash at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field, as Holbeach avenged a 2-0 league loss back in September.
Although Spalding had a few chances, it was largely one-way traffic in front of a meagre crowd of 290 – leaving Chand delighted.
He said: “I think we’re proving a few people wrong this season. We didn’t make any bold statements at the start of the season like some teams and the lads have gelled superbly.
“It wasn’t our best display, but we controlled the play in midfield, with Goody and Kenny calling the tun. I thought we approached the game properly and I’m delighted with the lads.
“I don’t think they really troubled us and I don’t see any reason why we can’t go all the way and win this cup. On our day we know we can beat anybody in the UCL.”
Those arriving late would have missed the best chance of the first half, as Tidswell worked Nick Conroy at his near post following a cracking pass from the excellent Goodhand.
At the other end Ryan O’Loughlin’s 25-yard free kick forced a super stop from Leigh Overton, but it always looked like Holbeach would be the side to break the deadlock.
They duly obliged in delivering the opener, with Kennedy slotting home from the penalty spot after Alex Lyon fouled Mitch Griffiths in the area. It was a clear penalty, but Conroy almost kept it out.
Simon Mowbray, who swapped Holbeach for Spalding in the summer, was unfortunate not to equalise instantly, but his half-volley was kept out by the agile Overton.
The second half wasn’t the greatest of spectacles, but the Tulips did enjoy their best spell of the game in the opening 15 minutes.
Winger Danny French fired their best chance into the side netting, while a massive scramble from the resulting corner ended up with the ball being kicked off the line.
There was another uncomfortable moment for the Tigers when a dangerous cross evaded everyone, while at the other end Griffiths saw a header from Dan Flack’s cross comfortably saved by Conroy.
With Chand becoming increasingly agitated on the sideline, Holbeach upped the ante before finally sealing their passage – and Tidswell’s clincher will live long in the memory.
The former Spalding ace belted home a devastating free kick from just outside the box, leaving Conroy helpless.
From then on Spalding struggled to fashion any real chances and a comeback never really looked on the cards, despite the introduction of new striker Ben Good 20 minutes from time.
Few could argue that Holbeach were full value for their win, but Tulips boss Andy Stanhope reckoned his side weren’t far away from getting a result.
He said: “To be honest, Nick Conroy is disappointed that he didn’t save both goals.
“I thought we had enough chances to have won the game, but it was a tough game for us.
“They’re a good side, you only have to look at the players they have in midfield.
“We’ll regroup and move on – it was certainly an improvement from the previous game.”
Spalding move on to an home FA Vase clash with Tividale on Saturday (3pm), while Holbeach host Thrapston Town in the league (3pm).
Tulips: Conroy, Duncliffe, Lyon (Good 71), Thompson, Fuff (c), Ashton, French, Earls, Smith, Mowbray, O’Loughlin. Not used: Hussey, Harris.
Tigers: Overton, Flack (Brooks 78), Jackson, Kennedy, Brown, J Stevens, Allen, Goodhand (Keeble 85), Tidswell, A Stevens (Treacher 82), Griffiths. Not used: Warfield, Newton.