Evo-Stik League First Division South: Spalding United 2 Sheffield 0
The world’s first football club came out second best against South Holland’s number one.
History belongs to Sheffield – formed in 1857 – but the future is looking bright at Spalding United who are enjoying their highest-ever position.
The Tulips started the second half of the season by recording a 10th successive home win.
The unbeaten league run is 13 games since they lost 4-3 at Sheffield in early October.
There is no doubt that the Tulips deserved this victory and it should have brought a bigger margin.
First-half goals by Jordan Hempenstall and Mitch Griffiths provided a platform but a series of missed chances meant Sheffield always had an opportunity to get back into it.
However they couldn’t find a way past Spalding’s back four and keeper Michael Duggan who claimed another clean sheet.
The result would not be a surprise to the rest of the division as the Tulips made it 11 wins out of 13 home league games while Sheffield went down for the 10th time on the road.
The message is clear – Spalding have set their sights on a top-five finish and they look capable of a promotion challenge this term.
It was close to being the perfect start on Saturday when Chris Hall’s left-footed volley from 20 yards bounced off the post with 50 seconds played.
The opener duly arrived on 20 minutes as Hempenstall latched onto a lay-off from strike partner Andrew Tidswell, moved across the penalty area and fired into the bottom corner of the net.
The lead was doubled just before the break as Griffiths curled a left-footed shot into the far corner.
Duggan produced a superb save in first-half stoppage-time when he tipped over a header from Jamie Hadfield.
Sheffield applied plenty of second-half pressure but they were fortunate not to concede more goals at the other end.
Tidswell and substitute Ryan Oliver wasted the best chances, missing the target when it looked easier to find the back of the net.
That didn’t matter as the Tulips looked comfortable and full of confidence on the way to another win.
Sheffield didn’t make it too easy with a direct approach but Spalding stood up to that challenge and deserved to come out on top.
Defensively strong with so many options going forward, the Tulips are looking good.
4-4-2: Duggan 7; Leary 7, Stevens 7, N Stainfield 7, Jackson 8; Griffiths 7 (sub Oliver 82 mins), Hall 8, Webb 7, McGovern 7 (sub Clarke 79 mins); Hempenstall 7, Tidswell 7 (sub Waumsley 79 mins). Sub not used: J Thurlbourne.
4-4-2: Eastwood; Obed (sub McGrath 74 mins), Hadfield, Walker, Turner; Roney, Burrell, Knowles (sub Stirrup 84 mins), Gregory; Longstaff, Purkiss (sub Thomas 59 mins). Subs not used: Ludlam, Algar.
Hempenstall (20 mins, 1-0); Griffiths (43 mins, 2-0).
Hempenstall, Thomas (fouls).
Chris Hall – close to first-minute opener and went on to produce another top-class display in central midfield.
Norton United (A) – Saturday.