Evo-Stik League First Division South - Newcastle Town 3 Spalding United 1
In a key encounter Spalding United lost ground on their promotion rivals after a game in which the scoreline does not reflect the closeness of the play.
In fact, with more vigilant judgement by the three match officials, and taking nothing away from Newcastle Town who played well, it could have been considerably different.
Between them the officials, through their errors, gave the home team two goals, and the referee, after indicating that a free-kick could be taken without players moving back the obligatory 10 paces, ordered Jamie Thurlbourne’s shot, which whistled into the net, to be re-taken. This time the shot was saved.
After a cat and mouse opening spell in which the hosts had the edge with their extra pace, it was the Tulips who were nearest to scoring on 15 minutes.
With goalkeeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston miskicking a clearance on the 18-yard line, Jack McGovern pounced on the loose ball and fired towards an empty goal, only to have Aaron Carter race back and clear from the line.
Minutes later a free-kick, pinged into the penalty area by Thurlbourne, created mild panic before Nathan Stainfield fired over the bar.
But it was Newcastle who broke the deadlock on 24 minutes. Winger Tom France, clearly offside on the right touchline, crossed into the area to force Michael Duggan into a save at the expense of a corner.
From the following kick the keeper’s attempted punched clearance glanced off his glove and with the wind assisting, the ball looped back over his head and into the net, although Jose Gurrionero was credited with the goal.
Play continued from end to end and Newcastle were denied a second on 36 minutes when Duggan redeemed himself with a smart reflex save to turn France’s effort over the bar.
As the half drew to a close the Tulips forced four consecutive corner kicks without bringing reward.
The Tulips, however, were back on level terms with Matty Nolan finding space at the back post to nod in Lee Beeson’s corner.
But the 67th minute saw home advantage restored with a close-range strike by Josh Gordon following a cross by Tom Urwin who had got a foot to the ball after it had, according to defenders Jamie Stevens and skipper Michael Leary, crossed the goalline without being spotted by a referee’s assistant.
The Tulips would have been level in the 73rd minute if Thurlbourne’s great free-kick strike had been allowed to stand, but Newcastle rubbed salt into their wounds by scoring their third goal five minutes later.
Duggan did well to parry Gurrionero’s shot but captain Tim Sanders reacted quickly to score from the rebound.
Spalding: Duggan, Leary (Vieira 89 mins), Jackson, Stevens, Stainfield, Webb, Beeson, Hall, Nolan, McGovern (Waumsley 73 mins), J Thurlbourne (Banister 82 mins). Subs not used: Adams, Pycock.