Spalding United’s six-match unbeaten league run was finally ended by the runaway leaders at a very wet and windy Marston Road Stadium on Saturday.
Two quality first-half goals gave Stafford Rangers a worthy lead playing with the elements at their backs.
However, they did not have everything their own way with the Tulips forcing them to battle for every inch of territory on the sodden playing surface.
Indeed Spalding had the lion’s share of the possession after the break and created scoring chances but lacked the vital cutting edge when it mattered most.
Despite awful conditions, which blew straight down the pitch, the players provided some excellent entertainment for the 443 fans in the ground. How nice it would be to have that many passing through the Sir Halley Stewart Field turnstiles!
The Tulips were without goal ace Jake Newman who was serving the first game of a three-match suspension picked up when playing for his former club Wellingborough Town in the early weeks of the season.
But they welcomed back Jamie Graham while young Leicester City and Everton target Jonny Lockie had a taste of the action as a second-half substitute.
With the wind and rain at their backs Stafford were quickly out of the blocks and pressuring the visiting defence.
Ben Haseley gave notice of their intent with a 10th-minute shot from 30 yards which rose inches above Michael Duggan’s crossbar.
On a constructive break Mitch Griffiths worked space down the left side to whip over a good cross which Dan Lawlor got his head to but Adam Whitehouse saved comfortably.
The home side were ahead on 17 minutes with the ever-prominent Nathan Rooney providing a blistering finish to a sequence of crisp passing movements to beat Duggan from 25 yards out.
Within two minutes a post prevented the Tulips from going further behind but play was quickly switched to the other end where Josh Moreman curled a well-struck shot inches wide of the woodwork.
However, in similar style to their opening goal Stafford extended their advantage on 25 minutes, this time with Peter Till drilling the ball in.
Two minutes before the interval Stafford were down to 10 men with full-back Matthew Wood picking up his second yellow card, both for fouls on Moreman.
As expected, with help of the wind and rain after the break and numerical advantage, the Tulips began to take the game to the home side but found it difficult to penetrate Stafford’s defensive lines.
When they did break through, keeper Whitehouse was there to deny them.
Adam Jackson was inches away from reducing arrears with a free-kick that flew fractionally wide of the target and Dan Banister went near on two occasions, forcing Whitehouse to one particularly good save.
In the closing minutes both Sam Murphy and Nathan Stainfield connected with good headers from corners but without success.
Spalding: Duggan, Walker, Jackson, Spafford, Stainfield, Banister (sub Sanders 79 mins), Griffiths, Lawlor, Graham, Waumsley (sub Murphy h-t), Moreman (sub Lockie 84 mins). Sub not used: Humble.