A much-changed Spalding United team turned in a tenacious display to waltz past higher-level Rushall Olympic and deservedly reach the next stage of the Evo-Stik NPL’s Integro League Cup on Tuesday evening.
Regular first-choice players Nathan Stainfield, Neal Spafford, Nathan Whitehead, Bradley Wells and Brad Barraclough all started on the bench.
Jason Field, Lee Beeson, Jonny Lockie, Jack Wightwick and veteran Terry Fleming, came in to face the Premier Division side.
They proved without any shadow of doubt that the Tulips have strength and depth in the squad.
Fleming, the oldest man on the pitch and having his first outing of the season, was brilliant in midfield and earned the travelling few’s nomination for man of the match – but it was not an easy decision for them to make as everyone in the starting line-up was a serious contender.
Lockie set the pulses racing after a goalless first half with a well-taken goal on 53 minutes and with it, as the telephone wires buzzed, the offer of a trial with Sky Bet Championship club Burton Albion who had a scout assessing his ability at the game.
Leading scorer Wells came off the bench with 12 minutes remaining to score the second goal in added time.
Make no doubt about it, for the most part the Tulips were the better team with their younger and more diminutive players readily mixing it with physically bigger players.
Lockie’s formidable pace down the right side posed numerous problems for the home defence and only some really close attention denied him early goals.
He was quick to respond when Connor Higginson’s effort was parried by keeper Sam Arnold but his shot was hacked away to safety.
Shortly after he was caught inches offside when dashing through to collect a neat lob into the area by Wightwick.
When the Pics responded, Marcus Jackson – their most effective forward – was denied by Richard Walton who palmed the shot over the bar.
He offered the same treatment to Michael Wright in the closing minutes of the first period.
Minutes earlier, stand-in skipper Paul Walker and Higginson were close with good efforts.
However, Higginson, was forced off through illness before the break.
The Tulips deservedly broke the deadlock with Lockie neatly converting Lee Beeson’s cross at the far post.
A second Tulips’goal looked imminent and only a save at the foot of a post by Arnold following a combination between Wightwick and Barraclough denied them.
Wells, who had replaced Fleming, missed out in a one-on-one situation with the keeper but made no mistake when the opportunity arrived in added time, tapping in Wightwick’s lofted cross at the far post.
Arnold, Christophorou, Cooper, Forde, Eze, Whittall, Jackson, Partodikromo (sub McKenzie 66 mins), Dell (sub Hull 66 mins), Wright (sub Diop 55 mins), Martin. Subs not used: Hayes, Veiga.
Walton, Lemon, Jackson, Varley (sub Stainfield 70 mins), Field, Walker, Beeson, Fleming (sub Wells 77 mins), Lockie, Wightwick, Higginson (sub Barraclough 43 mins). Subs not used: Spafford, Whitehead.
Lockie (53 mins, 0-1); Wells (90 mins, 0-2).
Shaw Lane (H) – Evo-Stik NPL First Division South, Saturday.