TULIPS: Nightingale leads Tulips charge

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SPALDING UNITED 7 HARBOROUGH TOWN 1: TJ Nightingale proved that he can be the answer to Spalding’s striking problems with a four-midable showing on Saturday.

The former Eastbourne and Hucknall Town hitman fired four goals in the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field romp, as strugglers Harborough were hit for seven.

Luke Kennedy, Dan Cotton and an own goal completed the scoring for the fourth-placed Tulips, who closed the gap on leaders St Ives Town to seven points, with two games in hand.

Boss Pat Rayment was relieved to see his charges dismantle lowly opposition, having struggled in recent weeks.

He said: “Harborough were no different to Sleaford, Irchester and PNS, but we were really firing on all cylinders.

“People forget that TJ Nightingale has been playing step two and three football. He’s quick and strong and will be a massive asset. Tony Battersby made a massive difference too.

“I know what I’ll get from him and I liked what I saw.”

Floodlight problems almost put paid to the clash before a ball was kicked, but once Spalding got going there was only going to be one winner – with Nightingale’s name up in lights.

Danny Wright nodded the first Spalding goal past his own keeper on six minutes, before Nightingale (18) pounced for number two following a Battersby cross.

Nightingale took advantage of a jittery defence to bury his second from close range (26), then completed a rapid treble with a rebound from Tom James’ strike eight minutes before the interval.

A Ben Barton penalty (63) offered some restbite for Harborough, but a stunning 25-yarder from Luke Kennedy (74) restored Spalding’s four-goal cushion. Man-of-the-match Nightingale (86) tapped home number six, before Cotton’s deflected drive (89) completed the scoring.

The Tulips visit Desborough Town tonight (7.45pm), with Miles Chamberlain and Danny Steadman both doubtful and Lee Canoville still sidelined.

Tulips: Drury, Doherty, Earls, Smedley, Fuff, Kennedy, James (Hussey 74), Hall, Battersby (Joyce 64), Nightingale, Cotton. Not used: Ebdon.