Jordan Hempenstall’s fourth goal of the season for Spalding United was enough for his side to beat Romulus 1-0 in the EvoStik Division One South today.
The substandard pitch at Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field was always likely to mean that a moment of magic, defensive blunder or set-piece opportunity was going to settle this match.
Striker Tom Waumsley had a chance to make it 18 goals and 11 in his last nine games when heading a Michael Leary right-wing cross over the Roms bar on five minutes.
But scoring chances for both sides were few and far-between as Hempenstall saw his tame shot go straight at visiting keeper Stuart Parsons on 17 minutes.
Romulus were causing problems for the rock-solid Tulips defence with their pacey wingers, Edwin Aheakorah and Ashley Jackson.
But it was Mitch Griffiths who had the next chance for Spalding on 32 minutes, heading a Jamie Thurlbourne cross straight at Roms keeper Parsons.
The home side were warming to their task at this point and Waumsley took down a Jamie Stevens pass on his chest, but shot straight at the keeper three minutes before the break.
Almost immediately after, Jordan Nuttell saw his 12-yard shot saved by Parsons while at the other end, Jackson blazed over from 15 yards when set up by Aheakorah.
In the second half, Thurlbourne curled a 25-yard free kick just wide before his cross had to be clawed away from the Roms goal by Parsons.
But Spalding did take the lead on 57 minutes when a Thurlbourne left wing corner was directed past Parsons by Hempenstall at the far post from 10 yards out.
The Tulips had a chance to settle it a minute later when Hempenstall laid an 18th goal of the season on a plate for Waumsley, only for the red-hot striker to blaze over from five yards out.
It was then a question of whether the home side would be made to pay for such a glaring miss?
However, with Jamie Stevens and Nathan Stainfield arguably the best central defensive pairing in the league, Spalding saw the game out without too much fuss or threat of conceding an equaliser.
Stainfield headed a Thurlbourne corner wide on 69 minutes as Spalding took a stranglehold on the game.
In fact, the only heart-in-the=mouth moment came with four minutes left when Tulips keeper Michael Duggan, with 32 of his Sir John Gleed School students cheering him on from the stand, almost missed a 35-yard free kick that he unwisely came for.
But Hempenstall’s strike was enough to keep Spalding United fourth in EvoStik Division One South, 11 points behind league leaders Sutton Coldfield Town but with four games in hand.
SPALDING UNITED: Duggan; Leary, Stevens, Stainfield, Jackson; Griffiths (sub Hall 65 mins), McGovern, Nuttell, J. Thurlbourne; Waumsley (sub Tidswell 72 mins), Hempenstall. ROMULUS: Parsons; Curley, Francis, Lee, Branch; Smith; Aheakorah (sub Moses-Garvey 74 mins), Downes, Fitzharris, Jackson; Baker-Richardson.
REFEREE: Chris Sewell