Smash-and-grab in Staffordshire for Spalding United
Spalding United’s win over Kidsgrove Athletic at The Novus Stadium will go down as one of the all-time classic, non-league smash-and-grab raids.
In truth, the Grove should have done real damage to the Tulips’ play-off hopes after having at least ten clear opportunities to score.
What on earth the Staffordshire side are doing in the bottom two of Evo-Stik Division One South is anyone’s guess, but that won’t worry Tulips’ boss Pat Rayment on a day when he was forced to watch from the stands due to a one-game touchline ban.
The only action of note before Waumsley’s goal was a fifth-minute opening for the home side when winger Ross Davidson was sent through on goal, only to prod his effort badly wide from 15 yards out.
Ten minutes later, Spalding were in front when Grove keeper Joe Hemmings could only parry a Chris Hall shot from 20 yards into the path of Waumsley who gladly snapped up his 25th goal of the season.
From then on, it was one-way traffic as Kidsgrove produced an onslaught on the Spalding goal.
On 19 minutes, danger man Davidson sent a grasscutter towards the bottom left-hand corner which Duggan got down low to turn round his post.
Then on 28 minutes, Tony Malbon forced Duggan to save from a tight angle after the Tulips defence failed to clear their lines.
Another eight minutes past before Kidsgrove were in again when Davidson saw his 12-yard shot deflected round the right-hand post.
Five minutes before the break, Hemmings’ long clearance was missed by Michael Leary (in for the rested Nathan Stainfield) and Malbon missed criminally from 15 yards away, with only Duggan to beat.
On 42 minutes, a corner for the home side was headed agonisingly onto the angle of crossbar and post by central defender Josh Glover.
While all this was happening, not a chance to speak of at the other end as Spalding “couldn’t string two passes together” in the words of boss Rayment.
Not having their gaffer on the sidelines left the Tulips a subdued outfit, except for the dependable tough tackling from midfield dogs Lewis Webb and Hall, matched by the makes-football-look easy stroll of irreplaceable Jamie Stevens.
Kidsgrove didn’t have long to wait for another chance - on 46 minutes to be exact when Dave McPherson somehow managed to lift an 18-yard effort over Duggan’s goal.
They finally managed to bundle the ball home from a set-piece on 48 minutes, but it was rightly ruled out when striker Dave Walker impeded Duggan, although the actual reason for disallowing the goal was offside.
Stevens cleared away a dangerous cross from Walker as Malbon looked all set to head in the equaliser on 49 minutes before Spalding finally reminded us that there were two sides on the pitch when Hall’s cross-shot was saved by Hemmings.
The last half-hour was desperation stations for both sides as a bad bobble denied Malbon a chance to score on 57 minutes, Duggan palmed away an angled drive from the Grove’s impressive right back Joe Kearns on 70 minutes and substitute Will Booth headed a Davidson cross just wide with five minutes to go.
Kearns almost equalised in stoppage time with a 15-yard shot that was deflected into the side netting, but Spalding hung on to the three points quite literally.
After the game, Rayment said: “Arguably, this has been one of our poorest performances of the season from 1 to 11 and those who came on.
“I think we were lucky today but I also think that we’ve earned some luck.”
4-1-3-2: Hemmings; Kearns, Holmes, Glover (sub Brannan 67 mins), Brown; Flynn; Bell (sub Booth 54 mins), McPherson, Davidson; Walker, Malbon (sub Kinsey 75 mins). Subs not used: Beresford, Grocott.
4-4-2: Duggan 9; Banister 7, Leary 7, Stevens 8, Jackson 7; Griffiths 6, Webb 8, Hall 7, Beeson 7 (sub Vieira 81 mins); Adams 6 (sub Thurlbourne 58 mins, 6), Waumsley 7. Sub not used: Pycock.
Waumsley (15 mins, 0-1).