Evo-Stik League Doodson Sport Cup quarter-final: Ilkeston 2 Spalding United 2 (Ilkeston won 5-4 on penalties)
Spalding United missed out on a Doodson Sport Cup semi-final place after a penalty shoot-out at Ilkeston’s New Manor Ground on Tuesday evening.
Though beaten by a team riding high in the Premier Division of the Evo-Stik League, the Tulips could hold their heads high following a high octane performance in which they twice held the lead before being forced into the spot-kick situation.
Nine of the regulation ten kicks all found the mark - but unfortunately Jamie Thurlbourne’s opening effort, though sending keeper Jordan Smith the wrong way, only found a post.
Michael Leary, Chris Hall, Elliot Hodge and Luke Thurlbourne all found the mark, but so did all of the home team’s chosen five.
New keeper Sam Donkin was close to forcing a second round of kicks when getting a hand to Jake Wright’s shot but was unable to keep the ball out.
Dolkin, who has joined from Corby Town to cover for the injured Michael Duggan, had a very promising debut despite only meeting his new colleagues just a short while before the game.
Ilkeston, who currently hold second spot - just five points adrift of pacemaking Skelmersdale with six games in hand, very quickly discovered they had a game on their hands.
Play was fast and furious and from end to end throughout but it was the Tulips who made the dream start with a 13th-minute goal by Leary. Mitch Griffiths’ free-kick was sent into the home area, Nathan Stainfield headed back over the goalmouth to find his captain free at the far post to nod home.
Just a minute earlier Griffiths had made firm contact with a Jamie Thurlbourne cross but his effort flashed wide of the target. Shortly afterwards Tom Waumsley had the ball in the net but was ruled offside.
The Tulips had a setback on 34 minutes when Stainfield was forced off with a recurring knee problem and was replaced by Hodge.
Ilkeston were always a threat, attacking with great pace, particularly down the wings. Minutes before the interval the legs of Donkin denied Callum Chettle and Wright drove wide from close in.
However, the scores were level at the interval with James Reid converting a penalty, conceded by the otherwise impressive Jamie Stevens, in the first minute of added time.
Ilkeston won two successive corners to open the second half, but breaking quickly down the left-side following a Chris Hall clearance, the Tulips regained the advantage on 49 minutes with an excellent strike by Griffiths.
Adam Jackson denied the home team a swift equaliser with a goalline clearance and three more Ilkeston corners followed in quick succession. But for some over enthusiastic shooting they could have been back on level terms before the tricky Wright weaved past Leary to do the business with a shot that flashed just inside a post in the 63rd minute.
It was nip and tuck for the remainder of the half with the home team just having the edge but unable to break down the steadfast Tulips’ defence.
Spalding: Donkin, Leary, Jackson, Stevens, N Stainfield (sub Hodge 34 mins), Webb, Griffiths, Hall, Nuttell (sub L Thurlbourne 90 mins),
Waumsley (sub Adams 84 mins), J Thurlbourne. Subs not used: McKue, G Stainfield.