FOOTBALL: Tulips on verge of UCL history

TULIP TARGET: Jon Fairweather (right), pictured tussling with former Spalding ace Shane Tolley. Photo: TIM SMITH
TULIP TARGET: Jon Fairweather (right), pictured tussling with former Spalding ace Shane Tolley. Photo: TIM SMITH
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Pat Rayment has admitted that his Spalding United side have done better than he dreamed possible as they close on a UCL Premier Division record.

The Tulips will set a new benchmark for a best-ever start to a season if they can defeat Wellingborough Town at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field on Saturday (3pm).

Last weekend’s 4-1 win at Yaxley equalled Long Buckby’s record of 16 wins on the trot, but Spalding are now hot favourites to raise the bar.

Confident boss Rayment predicted that his star-studded side would smash all sorts of records before the season got under way – but even he is amazed at just how good the Tulips have been this term.

“If you’d have told me at the start of the season that we’d win our first 16 league games I’d have laughed,” said the Spalding supremo.

“Even I couldn’t have dreamed that we’d start this well, if I’m honest.

“First and foremost, Saturday is just another game that we need three points from. But if we can get this record you’d say it’ll be one that’ll be very tough for anyone to beat.

“It’d be a bit of a landmark, but it doesn’t make any difference to us really.

“It will mean nothing if we don’t go on and capitalise on the start we’ve made.”

Having won 24 of their 25 competitive games so far this season – the only loss being an FA Cup exit at the hands of higher-graded AFC Hornchurch – Rayment is also eyeing up the prospect of his Spalding side become the new ‘invincibles’. He believes there’s a chance that the Tulips could go the entire UCL Premier Division season unbeaten, but doesn’t think winning all 36 games is realistic.

Next to try and beat the league leaders are a Wellingborough side that knocked off second-placed Deeping Rangers 2-1 last week.

Rayment added: “Winning every league match is the stuff of dreams, but you have to accept that there will be a blip.

“Going unbeaten is a possibility. We’ve totally dominated almost every league match and have some players that are unplayable at this level.

“Wellingborough are one of those sides that can cause an upset on their day, as last week showed.”

Skipper Lee Canoville has joined Jonny Allen and Lee Beeson on the long-term injury list, but Peter Bore makes a welcome return to the squad.

The Tulips have also made a seven-day notice of approach for versatile Wisbech Town defender Jon Fairweather.

Any deal for the ex-Holbeach United ace is unlikely to be done by the weekend.

Meanwhile, Spalding have drawn higher-graded Stamford in the next round of the Lincs FA Senior Trophy.

That tie will provisionally take place at Stamford on January 25, as will the other ‘area semi-final’ that sees Deeping Rangers play host to Grantham Town.