Spalding United’s hopes of closing the gap on the Evo-Stik League Division One South leaders suffered a blow in a high octane 1-0 defeat at Gresley.
Tulips boss Pat Rayment saw red after letting his emotions get the better of him in the closing minutes and was sent to the stands by the referee after strongly disputing one of his decisions.
The game was strongly contested throughout but was often stop-start as the match official made a number of debatable decisions against either team.
The Tulips were just a yard short of taking a fifth minute lead. With home ’keeper Liam Roberts almost at the half way line after taking a free kick that went horribly wrong, Mitch Griffiths intercepted the kick and slammed the ball goalwards. Fortunately the ’keeper’s legs did not let him down and he raced back-tracked to collect the ball just a few feet from the goal.
The 13th minute however, saw the ’keeper beaten. Greg Smith’s header, following a free kick, rebounded from the bar and Tom Waumsley, lurking at the far post, tapped the ball over the line, only to de denied by the raised flag of a referee’s assistant.
Just two minutes later a Jamie Thurlbourne cross was knocked on by Mitch Griffiths to Waumsley whose firmly hit shot whistled inches over the bar.
When Gresley replied mid-way through the half Tulips’ ’keeper Alex Pycock – recalled from Peterborough Northern Star to cover for the injured Michael Duggan (loanee Sam Donkin who had deputised so well in recent games, having returned to Corby Town), pulled off a fine save at full stretch to turn Jack Langston’s 20 yards freekick over the bar.
With home pressure maintained from the resulting corner, Jamie Barrett had a simple 22nd minute tap-in at the far post after Luke Edwards shot had struck the woodwork. Almost immediately at the other end goalkeeper Roberts was brought to his knees to again deny Waumsley.
In the opening minute of the second period Pycock came to the Tulips’ rescue with another tremendous reflex save .
Play continued at lightning pace from end to end. The Tulips battled superbly to get back on level terms but chances in front of goal were curtailed incessantly by a blanket home defence.
As the game neared added time Adam Jackson, back after a three-match suspension, was harshly penalised for a 50/50 challenge inside his area. But justice was done when Alex Steadman drove his penalty kick wide.
Tulips: Alex Pycock, Michael Leary (Elliott Hodge 79 mins), Adam Jackson, Jamie Stevens, Nathan Stainfield, Lewis Webb, Mitch Griffiths, Chris Hall, Greg Smith (Jack McGovern 75 bmins), Tom Waumsley, Jamie Thurlbourne. Subs (not used) Luke Thurlbourne, Nathan Adams, Michael Duggan. MoM Alex Pycock. Att: 187.