MATCH VERDICT: Derby double earns away win for Spalding United

Photos by Tim Wilson
Photos by Tim Wilson
  • Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South - Lincoln United 0 Spalding United 2
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Part two is complete – you can add the diary date.

The Sir Halley Stewart Field will stage the play-off semi-final on Tuesday, April 25 (7.45pm kick-off).

Spalding United take on Stocksbridge Park Steels in a bid to keep alive those dreams of promotion.

The Tulips have stayed in the top three since the end of August so nobody could say they don’t deserve to have home advantage.

Two late goals at Lincoln United on Easter Monday set up next week’s knockout tie.

Top scorer Bradley Wells took his tally to 26 goals in all competitions by breaking the deadlock in a dull derby.

Jordan Lemon was brought down for the penalty

Jordan Lemon was brought down for the penalty

Just three minutes later, something more unusual happened as the Tulips put away a penalty.

Having missed four times in the previous six games – twice each by Leon Mettam and Lee Beeson – up stepped substitute Conor Higginson to show it’s not actually that difficult to convert from 12 yards after all.

Higginson’s introduction midway through the second half certainly had an impact which any manager would be pleased about when bringing on a replacement.

Boss Chris Rawlinson was probably planning ahead by taking off Matt Varley who serves a suspension in the final match of the regular campaign on Saturday.

Bradley Wells heads home

Bradley Wells heads home

However, he has often described Higginson as a ‘clever footballer’ and that proved accurate again.

Higginson’s interception was followed by a pinpoint pass which released Jonny Lockie.

The teenager should have scored but the ball bounced off keeper Jake Turner and Wells sent a looping header into the empty net.

When former Lincoln player Jordan Lemon was tripped in the box by Luke Hornsey, the referee pointed to the spot and Higginson’s cool finish doubled the lead.

Lee Beeson congratulates Conor Higginson

Lee Beeson congratulates Conor Higginson

That sealed a thrilling finish to a terrible game – a typical derby, you might say. There was plenty of effort but a lack of entertainment.

Having booked a play-off place thanks to other results despite Saturday’s defeat, the Tulips knew victory would guarantee third place.

Before the break, Turner held onto Wells’ close-range volley and raced out of his 18-yard area to deny Mettam.

The second half was much better – although it couldn’t have been any worse to watch.

Lemon’s angled drive and Nathan Whitehead’s volley threatened to punish their former club in a happy return.

Higginson went close from 35 yards and Mettam should have done better when Wells forced a defensive error.

Another effort by Mettam was blocked in the six-yard box but Spalding finally got past the Whites’ back four to end their play-off hopes.

Now for part three of the Tulips’ bid – winning that home semi-final.

LINCOLN UNITED

4-4-1-1: Turner; Hornsey, Wright, Blunden, Ward (sub Cann 72 mins); Fairclough (sub Millard 61 mins), Nichol (sub Hall 68 mins), Toyne, Smith; Norris; Cotton. Subs not used: Brooks, Hutchinson-Wilkes.

SPALDING UNITED

4-4-2: Duggan 7; Walker 7, Spafford 7 (sub Miller 60 mins, 7), Stainfield 8, Jackson 7; Beeson 7, Varley 7 (sub Higginson 68 mins, 7), Whitehead 7, Lemon 7; Wells 7, Mettam 7 (sub Lockie 80 mins). Subs not used: Field, Downey.

REFEREE

David Jones.

GOALS

Wells (83 mins, 0-1); Higginson pen (86 mins, 0-2).

BOOKINGS

Beeson (foul); Wells, Smith (unsporting behaviour).

ATTENDANCE

210

STAR MAN

Nathan Stainfield – yet another dominant display at heart of defence for key role in clean sheet.

ENTERTAINMENT

WHO’S NEXT

Northwich Victoria (H) – Saturday.