Inspirational skipper Nathan Stainfield scored twice in three second half minutes to steer his Spalding United side to a comfortable victory against Carlton Town at Stoke Lane on Tuesday, and safely through to the second round of the EvoStik NPL Integro/Doodson Cup competition.
Also contributing two goals was Cenk Acar , taking his tally for the season so far to 11, while Jack Wightwick chipped in with one to set the team on the victory trail against a Carlton side who played far better than their lowly league position would suggest.
In fact, the home team fought back from 2-0 down to level the scores and present the Tulips with a severe test.
The Tulips began the game well, playing some good attacking football and creating scoring chances.
Wightwick was lively, jinking through the home defence on countless occasions and also whipping some good passes into the penalty areas.
One such pass found Bradley Wells in a good position who was inches off target.
Wells and Mitch Griffiths were found marginally off side as the pressure continued.
But Carlton hit back with a defence splitting move and a shot from Aaron Hooton which Paul Walker cleared from the line.
The breakthrough for the Tulips came on the half hour with the diminutive Wightwick launching himself to head in Wells’s slick passes into the area, giving keeper Jack Steggles no chance.
Four minute later the score was doubled.
Acar was upended as he ghosted into the area and he stepped up to convert the resultant penalty.
However, Carlton came storming back to force a rash tackle from Griffiths and reduced arrears with a penalty of their own in the 39th minute which Hooton hammered home.
The scores were levelled five minutes into the second half with substitute William Mellors-Blair punishing some woeful defending.
Carlton were very much back in the game, constantly threatening as play continually switched from end to end.
It was left to skipper Stainfield to settle some nerves from his troops and management team with a trademark far post header from one of Matt Varley’s long throws into the home area in the 74th minute.
Three minutes later the sequence was repeated and it was game over for plucky Carlton, and Acar rubbed salt into their wounds to complete the scoring five minutes from time.
In one final thrust only a super save from Michael Duggan denied Carlton’s Jake Wholey.
TULIPS: Michael Duggan, Jordan Lemon, Paul Walker (Jason Field 80 mins), Matt Varley, Nathan Stainfield, Charlie Gatter, Mitch Griffiths (Jonny Lockie 60 mins), Sam Downey, Bradley Wells, Jack Wightwick, Cenk Acar. Sub (not used) Terry Fleming. MoM – Stainfield.