FOOTBALL: Tulips pass tricky test

EARLY OPENER: Spalding's Andrew Tidswell fires his side ahead in the seventh minute. Photo by TIM WILSON
EARLY OPENER: Spalding's Andrew Tidswell fires his side ahead in the seventh minute. Photo by TIM WILSON
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SPALDING UNITED 3 SLEAFORD TOWN 0: Title favourites Spalding made it four wins from as many UCL Premier Division games as they brushed aside rock-bottom Sleaford on Tuesday.

Leading scorer Andrew Tidswell took his tally for the season to seven in just three games with a brace, while Lee Beeson added a late penalty for the Tulips.

But it wasn’t quite as straightforward for the table-topping hosts, with Sleaford taking plenty of plaudits with a battling performance.

Spalding boss Pat Rayment said: “Michael Duggan didn’t have much to do and I felt we had about 80 per cent of the possession. But make no mistake, Sleaford are not relegation material.

“Despite the goal we started sloppily and they made things very difficult for us.

“At the end of the day it’s another good win.”

After a slow opening five minutes, Spalding came to life with a clinical opener.

Midfield maestro Chris Hall arrowed a lovely pass through to Tidswell, who took the ball in his stride and slid a low strike past keeper Phil McGann on seven minutes.

Tidswell almost doubled his money moments later, but a fizzed low cross from Dan Cotton just eluded him with the goal gaping.

Sleaford then had two great chances to get themselves back on level terms.

Gavin Gordon did well to stay on his feet before forcing a smart low save from Michael Duggan, before strike partner Scott Coupland blazed a rebound over from just six yards.

Stand-in skipper Jamie Stevens then saw a header from Cotton’s whipped corner cleared off the line as the Tulips finished the first half much the stronger.

The centre back went even closer in the second period, sending another commanding header off the far post with the keeper beaten.

Tidswell was the next to go close, firing over at the near post after being slipped through by Sam Mullarkey.

But he made no mistake on 73 minutes, expertly dinking home the second after a clever flicked pass from Hall.

Beeson then put the finishing touches on the win when he picked himself up to slam home an injury time penalty.

Tulips: Duggan, Allen, Jackson, Stevens, Stainfield, Webb, Cotton (Thurlbourne 78), Hall, Mullarkey (Battersby 78), Tidswell, Gibson (Beeson 78). Not used: Doherty, Hussey.