Spalding United nearly made amends for Tuesday night’s annoying defeat to AFC Rushden & Diamonds by drawing with Newcastle Town, playing the second half with ten men.
Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field staged a second-against-third showdown that hinged upon a two-minute spell just before half-time.
Jenk Acar had put the Tulips ahead from the penalty spot after Bradley Wells was tripped by Castle defender Spencer Gunnell.
But from nowhere, Nathan Whitehead pressed the self-destruct button by lashing out at a Newcastle player and referee Matthew Smith was prompted by angry players from the visiting side to show a straight red card to the Tulips’ midfielder.
A closely-fought match saw early set-pieces chances for Nathan Stainfield, while a shaky Tulips’ defence were almost punished by Jon Beaumont’s powerful header from a Lee Cropper cross.
Michael Duggan was called upon to make a number of important saves throughout the game, including an first-time strike from Cropper who latched onto a pass that cut right through the Spalding defence.
Meanwhile, Jack Wightwick’s 15-yard curler should have given the Tulips the lead but Bradley Wells headed it over when he might have been better to watch it fly into the top right-hand corner.
Before his costly flash of anger, Whitehead pressed Castle keeper Aaron Dillon into saving his 20-yard shot after a slick move from Spalding started by left back Paul Walker.
But even after going down to ten men, Spalding never really looked like conceding in open play as Charlie Gatter and Stainfield kept a tight rein on Cropper, Beaumont and Newcastle’s wide men Chris Baker and Joe Thomas.
However, Newcastle did equalise with 17 minutes left as Kyle Diskin’s piledriver free kick from 18 yards out caught Tulips goalkeeper Michael Duggan flat-footed and exposed at his right-hand post.
Spalding should have won the game soon afterwards when a Matt Varley free kick was headed across the Newcastle box by Wells, only for substitute Chris Hamilton just to narrowly miss out on getting the final touch.
At the other end, Duggan made up for the equaliser by saving with his legs from Cropper just as he looked like repeating the dose served to the Tulips on Tuesday.
A score draw, but what if Whitehead had held off his moment of “absolute madness”, as Frecklington described it after the game?
. For video highlights of the game, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqKwkH_kDSA
4-4-2: Duggan 8; Lemon 9, Gatter 8, Stainfield 8, Walker 7; Higginson 5 (sub Downey 45 mins, 6), Whitehead 5, Varley 6, Acar 7; Wightwick 7(sub Hamilton 62 mins, 6), Wells 7. Subs not used: Griffiths, Field, Wright.
4-2-3-1: Dillon; Bradbury, J. Askey, Gunnell sub Diskin 62 mins), Green; Blake, L. Askey; Baker, Beaumont (sub Bryant 81 mins), Thomas (sub Lovatt 75 mins); Cropper. Sub not used: Smith.
Acar pen (43 mins, 1-0); Diskin (73 mins, 1-1).
Whitehead (violent conduct).
Downey, Askey, Dillon (fouls).
Jordan Lemon - never stopped working for 90 minutes.
Newcastle Town (A) – Saturday.