EVO-STIK DIVISION ONE SOUTH - Spalding United 2 Belper Town 1
SUPERBLY taken goals by Josh Moreman and Charley Sanders earned the Tulips maximum points against a spirited Belper side who played without a recognised goalkeeper for all but seven minutes of the game on Tuesday evening.
Goalkeeper Danny Halstead received a straight red card from referee Martyn Fryer after handling the ball outside the 18-yard area to deny Tulips’ Josh Moreman a clear scoring opportunity at the Sir Halley Stewart Field.
Michael Towey replaced him between the sticks.
The Nailers had a second player receive a straight red at the other end of the contest, skipper Philip Watt sent to the dressing room in the fifth minute of added time following a lunging tackle on Sam Murphy.
Spalding manager Pat Rayment said: “We started the game very brightly but sometimes when an opposing goalkeeper gets sent off it can make your life more difficult.
“In a strange way the red card upset our strong start – and we couldn’t make the extra man count at all.
“I don’t think the guy who went in goal had a serious save to make all night.
“Josh scored a great goal to level things, but in the second half we just didn’t play anywhere near our potential.
“Obviously I’m pleased with the three points and the only piece of real quality which we produced led to the winner.”
Despite his frustrations, Rayment said: “After six games last season we only had five points but at the same stage this time we have 11 and are only a couple of points off second spot.”
On another superbly prepared Halley Stewart pitch the meagre crowd of just 104 spectators witnessed some exciting end-to-end play.
The Tulips were the more dominant during the early stages but unable to worry the visitors’ deputy ’keeper.
It was Belper, however, who took the lead from their first worthwhile attack on 20 minutes with Tom Liversedge completing a sweeping left side attack with a clinical 20-yards strike which zipped past home ’keeper Michael Duggan just inside his far post.
Shortly after Duggan came to his team’s rescue with a deft touch to divert Jonathan Williams effort over the bar.
But the Tulips were back on level terms by the 32nd minute thanks to a sizzling low-struck drive from man-of-the-match Josh Moreman.
The left winger linked well with Charley Sanders before outpacing his challengers to race into the area and lash the ball home.
On the stroke of half-time only the crossbar denied the Tulips the lead with Mitch Griffiths shot from a tight angle brushing the woodwork.
Belper continued to battle after the break, in fact enjoyed a large percentage of the play. Twice in the early stages the lively EvanGarnett created openings and two of his crisp balls into the area failed to find a touch in front of goal.
’Keeper Duggan also denied him with a crucial stop at the foot of a post.
A couple of team changes gave the Tulips a new dimension with Tom Waumsley and Dan Banister replacing Adam Millson and Griffiths.
Adam Jackson charged down the left side before curling a shot just wide of a post, just minutes before the Tulips took the lead for the first time.
Dan Lawlor, busy in the midfield, instigated a crisp short passing sequence and substitute Paul Walker provided the final pass to give Charley Sanders the scoring opportunity seven minutes from time.
In added time, the impressive Moreman, who was Spalding’s main source of danger all evening, twice went near to extending the lead before the Nailers had Watt dismissed for his reckless lunge on Murphy.
Watt’s sending-off compounded Belper’s frustration at not being able to hold on for what would have been a deserved backs-to-the-wall draw.
4-3-3: Duggan, Watson (Paul Walker 72), Jackson, Spafford, Stainfield, Murphy, Griffiths (Dan Banister 64 ), Millson (Tom Waumsley 63), Sanders, Lawlor, Josh Moreman. Subs (not used) Nuttell, Hussey.
4-4-2: Haystead, Pursicoe, Matthew, Lister, Watt, Towey, Fairclough (Wedderburn 85), Williams, Garnett, Liversedge (Stevenson 70), Johnson. Subs (not used) Taylor, Cooksey.