There was no pre-Christmas cheer for Spalding United on Saturday with a hotly-disputed goal for Basford United subjecting them to a second successive defeat.
With the scores level going into the last 15 minutes, the Tulips were rocked by a referee’s assistant deciding that the ball had crossed the line before keeper Michael Duggan had gathered it in a goalmouth melee.
No flag was raised and referee Tony Peart was making his way from the area, giving the impression that play would continue.
But, with players of both teams motionless, he then side-tracked to speak with his colleague and awarded a goal which completed a hat-trick for Ruben Wiggins-Thomas.
The game was highly competitive but largely scrappy with numerous stoppages and a strong wind not helping it to flow.
The Tulips missed the midfield presence of Dan Banister who was not available plus suspended duo Jake Newman and Josh Moreman.
Manager Marcus Ebdon brought in two young loan players from Peterborough United – Kweku Lucan and Ethan Lee – to boost his squad. Both were given 45 minutes of action.
Duggan featured after just eight minutes, turning away a stinging drive by Ashley Grayson.
At the other end Dan Lawlor fired into the side netting following a corner before the Tulips took the lead on 22 minutes with Jamie Graham running into the area to collect a neat chip over the defence by Tom Waumsley to give keeper Saul Deeney no chance.
A good effort by the industrious Mitch Griffiths was deflected away from the target for a corner and Waumsley shot into the side netting.
But Basford were gifted an equalising goal a minute before the interval following a needlessly conceded penalty which Wiggins-Thomas confidently slotted in.
Home advantage was restored five minutes into the second half with skipper Nathan Stainfield powering in a trademark far-post header from Lawlor’s corner.
Shortly afterwards Paul Walker forced a good save from Deeney after connecting with Lawlor’s through-ball.
When Basford responded the home defence had three attempts to clear their area and Wiggins-Thomas punished them to put the visitors back on level terms in the 69th minute.
Basford then seized the initiative to piled on more pressure which led to the controversial winner.
Spalding: Duggan, Walker, Jackson, Spafford, Stainfield, Murphy, Lucan (sub Lee h-t), Lawlor, Waumsley (sub Sanders 85 mins), Graham, Griffiths. Subs not used: Humble, Lockie.