Cotton stunner seals Tulips’ win

Football News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian,, @FreePressSport on Twitter
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Dan Cotton grabbed a last-gasp winner as Spalding gained revenge for their only league defeat of the season

The wing wizard produced a goal of sheer class in the second of three minutes added on as the Tulips came from behind to win.

The top-of-the-table clash attracted a bumper crowd of 624 – only two games in two Conference divisions had more fans through the turnstiles – and they were not to be disappointed by the entertainment on offer with play on a knife-edge throughout.

The Tulips were within a whisker of taking the lead after five minutes when Cotton connected beautifully with a Josh Ford cross only for the ball to run along the bar before being cleared.

But it was Diamonds who broke the ice three minutes later when recent signing Tom Lorraine powered home from 12 yards.

The home fans were silenced on 11 minutes when the inspirational Chris Hall released Lee Beeson down the right. His ball into the area was inch perfect for Mark Jones to beat keeper Matt Finlay with a text book near-post header.

Diamonds looked certain to regain the lead mid-way through the half when the dangerous Tom Lorraine burst through, but Tulips’ keeper Tom Roberts, who can also operate efficiently as an out-field player, raced out and made a timely interception.

Skipper Jamie Stevens then halted a Gregg Ling surge while at the other end Hall forced an excellent save from Finlay after connecting with a Beeson cross.

Stevens limped off just five minutes into the second half with a calf injury, to be replaced by Jamie Thurlbourne.

With Jonny Allen having already replaced Josh Ford during the break, some hasty positional re-adjustments had to be made.

To make matters worse, the dominant Nathan Stainfield was forced off in the 70th minute with blood pouring from a head wound but he was able to rejoin the action following remedial work by physio Sam Seal.

Diamonds seized on the opportunity to test the re-shuffled defence but were denied a second goal by Roberts who pulled off a stunning near-post save when a Matt Gearing header looked destined for the net.

The pressure was on the Tulips but they stood their ground superbly with Ross Watson and Hall outstanding.

Hall created the winner with an astute ball into area and Cotton side-stepped a defender before despatching a low driven shot inside the far post.

Spalding: Tom Roberts, Ross Watson, Adam Jackson, Jamie Stevens (Jamie Thurlbourne ), Nathan Stainfield, Lewis Webb, Lee Beeson, Chris Hall, Josh Ford (Jonny Allen 46 mins), Mark Jones, Dan Cotton. Not used: Danny Hussey, Marcus Ebdon, Michael Duggan.