Spalding United boss Pat Rayment has admitted that he gave his players a half-time verbal volley during Thursday’s 3-0 win over Deeping Rangers.
Super-sub Mark Jones jumped off the bench to fire Spalding to their best UCL Premier Division win of the season on Boxing Day.
The striker notched twice against former club Deeping on 49 and 55 minutes at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field, before leading scorer Andrew Tidswell (69) sealed the points.
To compound their misery, Rangers had star man Mitch Griffiths sent off on the hour for two bookable offences.
But the Thursday derby was really all about the Tulips, as they buried the myth that they couldn’t beat one of the league’s so-called top teams.
Rayment said: “I had to get stuck into the lads at half time. That was the first time I’ve had to do that this year really.
“I could have made plenty of changes, but bringing ‘Jonah’ on really changed the game.
“He was disappointed not to start, but Sam Mullarkey scored twice the previous game and earned his place. He was angry and it showed, he was almost unplayable.
“Deeping didn’t really test Michael Dugggan - which is great testament to us as they are a massive threat going forward.”
With Spalding top and Deeping second ahead of the derby showdown, the match was billed as the game of the season so by many.
But in truth, the all-Lincolnshire affair failed to live up to its billing – not that Rayment’s Tulips will care.
The first half was cagey and perhaps edged by Tuncay Korkmaz’s visitors. Griffiths always looked a threat for the men in claret and blue – and he fashioned the first real opening of the match.
The ex-Holbeach winger raced past Adam Jackson and delivered a fine cross for Alex Beck, who got his volley from about eight yards out all wrong.
Joe Braithwaite then side-footed a powerful effort just over the bar from the edge of the box, while Scott Ginty’s 25-yard blockbuster whistled just past Michael Duggan’s near post.
It was Spalding who had the best chance of the first period, though. Tidswell raced in behind the Deeping defence on the stroke of half time and fired a powerful effort towards the corner, but an athletic stop from James Doughty took most of the power off his strike and Rangers cleared.
The landscape of the match changed at the break, with the Tulips replacing a largely quiet Sam Mullarkey with former Deeping favourite Jones.
And Rayment’s substitution paid off immediately, with the talented hitman burying a bullet header from Dan Cotton’s corner into the net from close range on 49 minutes.
Jones than smashed a fierce long range effort just wide, before a fine individual effort made it 2-0.
The striker wriggled past a few players on the left before cutting in and firing past Doughty from an improbable angle – via a slight deflection off the unlucky Dan Flack.
If it wasn’t already game over for Rangers, it certainly was when Griffiths was given his marching orders soon after. The winger mistimed a tackle on former team-mate Jackson – and having already been booked, referee Robert Evans had no choice but to send him off.
Now smelling blood, the Tulips duly took control of the clash and added a third to rub additional salt into Rangers’ collective wound.
A decisive run and cross from Cotton and the right picked out master marksman Tidswell, who made no mistake with his volley from six yards out. That was goal number 35 of the season for Spalding’s leading scorer.
Jones almost completed a second-half hat-trick when he headed a Jamie Thurlbourne corner wide late on, but Spalding had long-since wrapped up a potentially piovotal win.
Tulips: Duggan, Bore, Jackson, Stevens, Stainfield (Fairweather 75), Webb, Cotton (Beeson 70), Hall, Mullarkey (Jones 46), Tidswell, Thurlbourne. Not used: Roberts, Hussey.
Deeping: Doughty, Flack, Stone, Tinkler, Cartwright (Ashton 53), Braithwaite, Griffiths, Ginty (B Lewis 73), Beck (Simpson 80), Heron, Parker. Not used: Oliver, C Lewis.