Spalding United overcame their FA Trophy exit in the best way possible with a 4-1 win over Leek Town in the Evo-Stik Division One South today.
Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field was no place for the footballing purists but a masterstroke deployed Tulips boss Pat Rayment earlier in the season to become more direct paid dividends against their Staffordshire opponents.
The Blues never looked comfortable on the increasingly deteriorating pitch in a game where Jamie Stevens returned to Spalding’s central defence alongside Nathan Stainfield.
Before the kick-off, Spalding were presented with the Division One South Fair Play Award for October and after a minute’s silence on Remembrance weekend, the Tulip set about their task with a determination to prove a point against the visitors.
A stray pass by Blues wideman Niall Maguire eventually led to the Tulips’ opening goal as Lewis Webb set up Tom Waumsley to score after just eight minutes.
Influential midfielder Jack McGovern, preferred to Jamie Thurlbourne in a three-man formation across the centre of the park for Spalding, stopped an equaliser for Leek on 15 minutes when he deflected an 18-yard piledriver from Anthony Danyluk off the line.
Four minutes later, Ashley Jackson was booked for a foul on Spalding’s Chris Hall but Leek equalised from a set-piece when a Paul Donnelly free kick was glanced home by Darren Chadwick.
But that was as good as it got for Leek, although a Danylyk snap shot from 30 minutes forced a superb save out of Michael Duggan.
Waumsley almost grabbed a second ten minutes before the break, just failing to touch home a McGovern right wing cross while Maguire floated a 30-yard free kick over the Tulips’ bar after Chris Hall saw yellow for fouling Danylyk.
Early in the second half, Jackson almost gave Leek the lead with a 25-yard shot which went wide before the turning point of the game arrived.
Thurlbourne replaced Mitch Griffiths on 57 minutes and combined with McGovern to put Waumsley through on the Leek goal, only for Ben Chapman to save at the goalscorer’s feet.
But on 62 minutes, Spalding were ahead when a pullback by Jordan Nuttell fell into the path of McGovern who sweetly lobbed Chapman to make it 2-1.
Waumsley could have made it three when he headed a McGovern cross wide but Chris Hall made no mistake with 11 minutes to goal, deliciously half-vollleying a McGovern assist into the bottom left-hand corner of the Blues’ net.
The Spalding fans chanted “We want four”, but they had to wait until four minutes into stoppage time when Ryan Oliver weaved his way round a tired Leek defence before slipping the ball past Chapman.
No amount on earth would have been enough to be a fly on the wall in the Tulips’ dressing room if Rayment’s lads hadn’t of won today.
Spalding United: Duggan; Leary, Stevens, N. Stainfield, Jackson; Griffiths (Thurlbourne), Webb, Hall, McGovern, Waumsley (G. Stainfield), Nuttell (Oliver).
Leek Town: Chapman: Donnelly (Kinsella), Espley, Chadwick, Jackson; Maguire, Danylyk, Hall (Lowe), Dicker, Shotton (Kinsey), Grice.
Referee: Tom Hancock.