Nathan Stainfield led by example again as Spalding United booked their place in Saturday’s final.
The skipper had missed the Tulips’ 3-2 home defeat to Stocksbridge Park Steels in November due to a neck injury.
But he was on top form on Tuesday night – claiming two assists and producing a superb defensive display.
Stainfield showed why he has been named in the First Division’s team of the season for all three years since the Tulips were promoted back into the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League.
The central defender was fouled for the penalty which Matt Varley converted at the end of the first half.
On the hour mark, there was a goal of pure quality as Stainfield delivered a sublime left-wing cross to the far post for Lee Beeson to head in.
Stainfield’s performance earned the unanimous vote by a five-man panel of staff and special guests who picked the man-of-the-match award from the Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian – sponsors of the semi-final.
Stainfield reflected: “It was a superb night!
“I thought that we were by far the better team in the first half.
“We pressed them and everyone went out there with so much energy in our side.
The game was like a final in itself and it’s all about the mentality more than anything else on the night.Nathan Stainfield
“In the second half, they changed the formation and caused us problems for the first 10 minutes.
“We got in front again – but I suppose the pyschology of the play-offs means that they had nothing to lose.
“They threw everything at us and scored a second goal.
“The game was like a final in itself and it’s all about the mentality more than anything else on the night.
“I thought Jonny Lockie was superb when he came on. He has been around the squad all season, he has trained hard and he has waited for this chance to shine.
“Fair play to him, he has certainly taken it! That was a fitting way to win the game.
“Now we’re off to Witton Albion on Saturday and it should be a good one.
“They are a very direct side and well organised. We are similar teams with a lot of character.
“As long as we win, I don’t care how it happens.”
Likely line-up (4-4-2): Duggan; Walker, Miller, Stainfield, Jackson; Beeson, Whitehead, Varley, Lemon; Wells, Mettam. Subs: Lockie, Downey, Spafford, Higginson, Acar.
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ONE TO WATCH
Bradley Bauress – named in the First Division South team of the season and also picked up the prize as young player of the year. He got the only goal at the Sir Halley Stewart Field in March’s game.
Saturday, March 11: Spalding 0 Witton 1 (Bauress 11)
Thursday, April 6: Witton 2 (Owens 32, Jones 53) Spalding 2 (Mettam 54, Lemon 68)