Evo-Stik League First Division South - Spalding United 2 Mickleover Sports 2
Again the big question must be asked - one point gained or two points dropped?
Well, after being 2-0 up inside 20 minutes and then conceding twice in the final 20 minutes, there is no doubt that Spalding United should be disappointed with their first home draw of the season.
However, you have to give credit to league leaders Mickleover Sports for a fightback to extend their unbeaten run to 11 games.
So was it a fair result? Maybe...
The Tulips produced a superb display and it wasn’t quite enough this time.
In his post-match interview, though, manager Pat Rayment was right to say that performances like this would surely get maximum rewards during the run-in.
Now they need to match that level of commitment and book a place in the promotion play-off pack.
Despite being without eight first-team players, Spalding showed there is strength in depth to compete with the top team in the division.
They were heading for a fourth successive home win until Ricketts’ late double ensured the Tulips remain in sixth spot.
Rayment recalled strikers Avelino Vieira and Tom Waumsley who were both on target in the previous home game against Goole.
And that selection certainly worked with two early efforts.
Waumsley had already struck the near post before Vieira found the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the penalty box.
Five minutes later it was 2-0 as Waumsley found space behind Mickleover’s defence, took a touch and then fired home.
In between those goals Michael Duggan pulled off a magnificent save from point-blank range to keep out Nico DeGirolamo’s header.
Even though Spalding looked in control, Rayment still wasn’t happy and midway through the first half he got a warning from referee Neil Guest.
Before the break Duggan made three more saves while Waumsley’s volley was pushed out by Sports number one Ross Atkins.
Duggan parried attempts from Karl Demidh and Andy Dales, also holding onto Ricketts’ far-post header to protect the advantage.
After the interval Duggan denied substitute Jacob Hazel twice while Chris Palmer and Dales wasted chances without testing the keeper.
It wasn’t one-way traffic, though, and Spalding will regret not being able to extend the lead.
Waumsley’s volley was tipped away, Vieira had a shot blocked inside the six-yard box, Jack McGovern’s header was nodded off the line at the far post and Chris Hall fired off target.
Then came the fightback as Ricketts was inexplicably left free to head home.
He got the equaliser following Jamie Stevens’ first-minute opener last month and Sports sensed an opportunity to salvage something.
Ricketts duly delivered again when Spalding failed to clear a corner and the ball was hooked into the net.
That came moments after substitute George Stainfield had been foiled by DeGirolamo’s last-ditch block.
There was still time for further chances as Spalding tried to win it.
Stevens saw a header held by Atkins and into stoppage-time Waumsley was off target.
So they had to settle for a point and perhaps before kick-off that would have been perfectly acceptable.
At the end of an entertaining encounter, Spalding must look back and wonder what might have been.
They should have held onto that lead but it wasn’t to be.
Over the next seven games there will be no complaints from Rayment if the squad can reproduce this form.
The Tulips proved a point against a side who could finish as champions - but they need to keep going.
4-4-2: Duggan 8; Banister 7, Leary 7, Stevens 7, Jackson 7; Beeson 7, Webb 8, Hall 7, McGovern 7; Waumsley 8, Vieira 7 (sub G Stainfield 78 mins). Subs not used: Hussey, McKue, Pycock.
4-4-2: Atkins; Bryant, DeGirolamo, Wiley, Palmer; Griffiths (sub Fairclough 67 mins), Lloyd, Foster, Dales; Ricketts, Demidh (sub Hazel 56 mins). Subs not used: Walshe, Oshoboke.
Vieira (14 mins, 1-0); Waumsley (19 mins, 2-0); Ricketts (70 mins, 2-1); Ricketts (80 mins, 2-2).
Lewis Webb - fully committed.
Market Drayton Town (A) – Saturday.