Two wins away from play-offs

Pat Rayment
Pat Rayment
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Two wins out of three games would secure a play-off place for Spalding United.

The Tulips take on Stocksbridge Park Steels in their final home game of the season on Saturday before trips to Tividale and Romulus next week.

Thanks to a superior goal-difference, six points would be enough to finish above Sutton Coldfield Town - even if the Royals win both of their fixtures.

Spalding slipped to fifth spot behind Gresley on goals scored over the weekend following a 1-1 draw at second-placed Leek Town.

As it stands, the Tulips would head to Harrison Park for the third time this season in the Evo-Stik League First Division South play-off semi-final.

Manager Pat Rayment said: “We were looking to reach 82 points but we might have to do a bit more to get into the play-offs.

“I don’t see Newcastle Town losing their next two games so that should give them 87 points which we can’t match.

“It’s looking like it will go down to the last day.

“With everybody available for selection going into our three games we know we can certainly win them all.

“Gresley have got a hard run-in but so have we because we won’t take Stocksbridge lightly while Tividale and Romulus are two form teams.”

Spalding conceded with the last touch of first-half stoppage-time at Leek but Jamie Thurlbourne’s 25-yard free-kick earned a point eight minutes after the break.

Rayment reflected: “It was a good point and a fair result.

“We had a massive blow losing Jamie Stevens and Nathan Stainfield who are the best two centre-halves in this league by a country mile.

“I woke up on my 50th birthday feeling happy and then it was like a black cloud hanging over me when Stainfield pulled out due to a shoulder injury.

“But we are pleased with a point and we will have more options next week when Stevens and Stainfield are both back.

“We were down to the bare bones with Michael Leary playing on one leg but I don’t think Michael Duggan had a save to make.

“It was Leek’s fifth game in 11 days and we’ve been in that position previously.

“The players are tired and you have to get them going again, especially after they lost twice over Easter.

“I couldn’t see them scoring in the first half.

“Pitches are going to be like that now and I told the players that set-pieces will be important.

“So it proved but we didn’t defend the free-kick and their number five got a free header.

“Then we equalised with an absolutely brilliant free-kick from Thurlbourne who did the same at Market Drayton Town two weeks earlier.

“Leek looked like a team who had played so many games in a short space of time but the demeanour of some of our players was so laid-back.”