TULIPS: Spalding play ‘best half of season’ in vital victory

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QUORN 1 SPALDING UNITED 2: Gary King’s late winner kept the Tulips firmly in the UCL Premier Division title race as they edged closer to rivals Holbeach United and St Ives.

Although Spalding needed King’s 82nd minute strike to see off their fourth-placed hosts on Tuesday night, boss Pat Rayment reckons they played some of their best football of the season so far.

The visitors had earlier recovered from Luke Jackson’s tenth minute opener for Quorn, with the in-form Dan Cotton netting his 19th of the season before the break.

With only leaders Holbeach and eighth-placed Cogenhoe United (Saturday, 3pm) of the current top ten left to play this season, Rayment now wants his side to go on the charge.

He said: “The first 45 minutes were as good as we’ve been this season. I looked around at the squad we had and it was frighteningly good.

“Quorn are a decent side and they’re after promotion too, so it was important to beat them and put some daylight between us.

“Hopefully we’ll get a head of steam going now and put some pressure on Holbeach and St Ives. It’s another game chalked off and we’re still in the mix.”

It was something of a shock that hosts Quorn got the game on, with the recent bad weather expected to see it called off.

But Spalding, who handed a debut to left back Nick Jackson, started superbly with Cotton curling an early effort wide and King seeing a decent strike saved.

It was the hosts who went ahead though, Luke Jackson drilling past Michael Duggan following a break down the left.

The Tulips regrouped and soon were back on level terms in the 34th minute when Cotton dispatched a Jay Smedley cross from 12 yards to make it eight goals in six games for the red-hot winger.

Jamie Thurlbourne was within inches of putting the Tulips ahead before the break, as Rayment’s side began to boss matters.

But it was end-to-end stuff after the interval, with Quorn skipper Anthony Marriott flashing an effort wide and King clipping the bar with a free kick. Cotton then fired a great chance over after an inviting cross from sub Lee Beeson, as a draw began to look more likely.

Spalding had other ideas though, with King finishing off coolly after a cracking run and cross from sub Chris Hall to leave them 14 points behind table-topping Holbeach with three games in hand.

The Tulips are at full strength for Saturday’s trip to Cogenhoe.

Tulips: Duggan, Canoville, Jackson, Chamberlain, Jacklin, Kennedy, Smedley (Beeson 65), Doherty (Hall 65), Cotton, King, Thurlbourne (Battersby 70). Not used: Fuff, Steadman.