Revered Scottish sportswriter Hugh McIlvanney described Ipswich Town’s win over Arsenal in the 1978 FA Cup final as a ‘1-0 massacre’.
No one would dare use those words today given the dangerous and turbulent world we now live in, but Spalding United’s complete domination of Market Drayton Town at Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field was as one-sided as Ipswich’s upset win at Wembley over the Gunners.
Playing the Roger Osborne role for Spalding was in-form striker Jake Newman who popped up seven minutes from full-time to slam home after Dan Banister’s close-range shot was kept out by Ashley Rawlins.
Before the winning goal, the Tulips had at least 12 goal-scoring chances, compared to Drayton’s two which were both free-kicks and only one of them troubling Michael Duggan.
The game started with both sides paying each other the respect that comes with being fourth and fifth respectively in the table.
But with ten minutes gone and only an Adam Jackson skyscraping shot to speak of up until that point, Tulips magic man Josh Moreman was felled in the Drayton box by central defender James O’Neill.
Moreman failed from the penalty spot, pulling his effort wide of Rawlins’ left-hand post, and he never recovered from that.
Tom Waumsley should have justified his starting role in place of Sam Murphy by heading Jackson’s left-wing cross into the net, rather than wide.
Waumsley proved rusty in front of goal again when he headed a cross straight at Rawlins and then a minute later Moreman’s involvement in the game ended with a straight red card after what looked a poorly-timed challenge on Drayton left-back Mike O’Reilly.
That was the signal for man of the match Banister to deliver a response, going close from 10 yards out just after the half-hour mark.
Nathan Stainfield almost profited from Rawlins parrying Newman’s 30-yard free-kick straight to him, but his shot was blocked.
At the other end, a 30-yard free-kick from Mike O’Reilly went right into Duggan’s hands on the stroke of half-time.
Second-half chances for Waumsley, Dan Lawlor, Newman and Mitch Griffiths - who skimmed the bar with an angled drive - left Spalding boss Marcus Ebdon fearing his side would be on the wrong end of an away-day smash-and-grab raid.
But the nerves were eased on 83 minutes when Banister’s initial shot after a move down Drayton’s left led to a goalmouth scramble from which the winning goal came.
4-4-2: Duggan 6; Walker 8, Spafford 7, Stainfield 8, Jackson 7; Moreman 4, Lawlor 7, Banister 9, Griffiths 8; Newman 8, Waumsley 7. Subs not used: Murphy, Humble, Sanders.
Newman (83 mins, 1-0).
Moreman (serious foul play).
Dan Banister - his best position is possibly right-back but he was typical of the “we are not losing this game” mentality that saw Spalding make a top-five side look like a Sunday League team. Banister was uncompromising in the tackle, unyielding in possession and unbending in attack.
Stafford Rangers (A) - Saturday.