FOOTBALL: First win for new Spalding United boss

Bradley Wells is challenged by Ben Ford. Malcolm Swinden Photography
Bradley Wells is challenged by Ben Ford. Malcolm Swinden Photography
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Chris Rawlinson reflected on his first win as Spalding United manager after the 10 men came from behind to beat AFC Rushden & Diamonds.

Central defender Neal Spafford was dismissed for a second bookable offence just three minutes after Liam Dolman’s free-kick broke the deadlock at the Dog & Duck on Tuesday night.

Jenk Acar levelled from the penalty spot and Leon Mettam made it six goals in three appearances with a sensational 20-yard set-piece.

Rawlinson said: “In the first half, the depth of their midfield was causing us problems.

“We spoke about it before the game but then we didn’t stick to the plan.

“In the last 20 minutes of the half, we picked up their number 10 (Richard Bunting) who was dropping deep.

Sam Downey fouls Richard Bunting

Sam Downey fouls Richard Bunting

“We got a foothold in the game and in terms of chances we probably shaded it.

“I think we can do better defensively because we were a bit sluggish giving away the free-kick which brought the opening goal.

“Spafford’s red cards are a bit of an issue. He’s that sort of player who tries to nick the ball and if he mis-times it then he gets a yellow card.

“I didn’t think the first-half challenge was worthy of a booking but the second one was a correct decision all day long.

The win puts distance between us and we’ll pick ourselves up again at home to Sheffield on Saturday.

Chris Rawlinson

“At 1-0 down with 10 men, we had to leave two players up front.

“My thinking was that Acar could get on the ball in wide areas.

“We also brought on Conor Higginson who is a clever footballer who makes us play.

“We kept the ball better and made the most of our set-plays.

“It was a clear-cut penalty and then what a finish by Mettam! He has done that before at free-kicks because he has that much quality.

“We couldn’t afford to lose the game as we would have been struggling to hold on.

“The win puts distance between us and we’ll pick ourselves up again at home to Sheffield on Saturday.

“They have some good players but we beat them comfortably away from home.

“They have improved a lot since then with a 4-4-2 formation and we’ve got to deal with that.

“We are looking to reach the target of an average of two points per game to reach the play-offs.

“I told the boys in the dressing-room that they have got to show belief.

“We are a good side who are second in the league for a very good reason.

“We need to get into the play-offs as reward for everyone involved with Spalding from the board to the supporters and volunteers.”