FOOTBALL: Emery the hero as Tigers edge ‘clasico’

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SPALDING UNITED 2 HOLBEACH UNITED 2 (Holbeach win 3-2 on penalties): Holbeach remain on-course to be the first team to retain the Lincs FA Senior Trophy in a decade after a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over their great rivals on Tuesday night.

Keeper Michael Emery was the hero, superbly saving from Spalding’s Dan Cotton to clinch a second Sincil Bank final on the spin.

The Tigers had earlier raced into a 2-0 lead at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field thanks to early strikes from Andy Toyne (2) and the returning Jason Turner (5).

But a deflected Luke Kennedy effort (35) and a last-gasp cracker from Spalding skipper Lee Canoville (90) forced penalties. Andrew Tidswell, Toyne and Rob Hughes all notched for Holbeach, with Chris Hall, Tom James and Cotton off target for the Tulips in the South Holland clasico.

Holbeach boss John Chand is relishing the April 17 final against either Barton Town Old Boys (last year’s runners-up) or Bottesford Town.

He said: “It was a good game, both sides were strong and tried to win it. We did our best to throw it away in normal time and the shoot-out – and I thought we had the better chances. The league is still very much the priority, but this will be a great day out for the fans and it’d be great to retain the trophy, not many teams manage that.”

Tulips chief Pat Rayment paid tribute to Holbeach’s work rate and wished them all the best in the final. He added: “They really worked their socks off – I think John knows that they have to against us.

“We made an awful start and showed great desire to get back into it. I won’t lie, it would have been nice to reach the final. But I wish Holbeach all the best and hope they go on to win it again.”

Holbeach couldn’t have made a better start, with ex-Tulip Toyne rifling the opener low into the corner from just inside the box inside 120 seconds. It got even better for the visitors, as Turner – back from a brief stint at Kettering Town – robbed Miles Chamberlain and raced through to smartly slot the second.

Spalding were clearly rattled, but slowly came back into the game. Emery was forced to save superbly from TJ Nightingale, before former Holbeach favourite Kennedy pulled one back with a scrappy effort that deflected in off Ben Brown.

Wideman James then sent a sizzling 25-yard free kick inches wide as Spalding searched, in vain, for a leveller before the break.

The second period was more tentative, but Holbeach saw Turner squander an excellent volleyed chance from six yards and then Brown rattled the post.

Spalding upped the ante in the closing stages as Cotton crashed a stunning free kick off the bar, before equalising in the final minute through Canoville’s clinical shot into the bottom corner.

Penalties followed, with James (over) and Hall (wide) missing for the Tulips ahead of Emery’s match-winning save from the unlucky Cotton.

Tulips: Drury, Canoville, Smedley, Chamberlain, Fuff, Steadman, James, Hall, Kennedy, Nightingale, Cotton. Not used: Hussey, Ebdon, Kilby, McCready, Doherty.

Tigers: Emery, Allen, Jackson, Toyne, Brown (Hughes 90), J Stevens, Griffiths, Lewis, Turner, Treacher (Tidswell 69), Parker. Not used: Flack, Warfield, Smith.

Attendance: 242.