TULIPS: Spalding ‘still in title race’ despite Saints draw

LEVELLER: Dan Cotton's 75th-minute strike picks out the corner. Photo by JAKE WHITELEY
LEVELLER: Dan Cotton's 75th-minute strike picks out the corner. Photo by JAKE WHITELEY
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ST IVES TOWN 1 SPALDING UNITED 1: Defiant Spalding supremo Pat Rayment is adamant that his side are still in the UCL Premier Division title race after this Tuesday night stalemate.

The Tulips needed a 75th-minute Dan Cotton cracker to secure a share of the spoils at Westwood Road, after a stunning Karl Gibbs strike put St Ives ahead in the first half.

Neither side really wanted a draw, with leaders Holbeach United emerging as the big winners without kicking a ball. They’re now 19 points clear of their South Holland rivals, who have four games in hand.

Perhaps more importantly, the Tulips remain six points behind second-placed St Ives, who are rivalling them for promotion. But Rayment insists that Spalding are still more than capable of winning the title race – and heaped praise on his side for their performance on a “disgrace” of a pitch.

He said: “We should have won, that’s the long and short of it. They scored an incredible goal, but didn’t create much else. What was most pleasing was that we competed with them physically.

“I’d obviously love to swap our position with Holbeach’s, but I get the feeling there are plenty of twists and turns left in this race. It’s still a three-horse race.

“What annoyed me was the pitch. We’ve lost Lee Beeson for a month because of it. How can they apply to go up when their pitch struggles to host football matches? It’s not an excuse, it’s just as bad for them as it is for the rest of us.

“As a club, they should be sorting out the drainage of their pitch – it’s a disgrace and it’s been going on for way too long.”

In a largely quiet first period, Gibbs’ 27th goal of the season was the stand-out moment on 21 minutes. The striker unleashed a thumping effort that flew over Michael Duggan from fully 35-yards.

Cotton missed a sitter early in the second half, while Jamie Thurlbourne shot just wide from distance and Gary King was denied from close range as the visitors upped the ante.

They did find a leveller 15 minutes from time when Cotton curled home beautifully from the edge of the box, following a fine team move.

Winger Cotton than had a gilt-edged chance to grab all three points for the Tulips two minutes from time, but fired wide after racing clear.

Spalding now face a tricky trip to Huntingdon Town on Saturday (3pm). Beeson (hamstring) and Tony Battersby will miss the clash, but defender Miles Chamberlain should return.

Tulips: Duggan, Canoville, Thurlbourne, Jacklin, Fuff, Steadman (Smedley 85), Beeson (Doherty 43), Hall, Battersby (Kennedy 70), King, Cotton. Not used: Hussey, McCready.