PETERBOROUGH NORTHERN STAR 0 SPALDING UNITED 3: Tulips chief Pat Rayment was in a philosophical mood after his side missed out on promotion on a dramatic finale to the UCL Premier Division season.
For much of Saturday’s climax it looked like Spalding would beat rivals St Ives Town to second spot, thanks to goals from Gary King (2) and Lee Canoville at Chestnut Avenue.
But an 83rd-minute screamer from ex-Deeping Rangers winger David Cobb fired the Saints to a 1-0 success at Shepshed Dynamo – and saw them pip the Tulips to promotion by one point.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Rayment and his side, who would’ve finished as runners-up to champions Holbeach United but for a three-point deduction they were handed back in 2012 for a ‘clerical error’.
The Spalding supremo refused to use the deduction as an excuse – and has vowed to come back stronger next season. He said: “It’s a hard one for the players to accept, as they’ve ultimately got enough points to be promoted.
“But those points were deducted a long time ago, so it’s not as if we’ve just been hit by them. We should have been out of sight really. I look back to games at Wellingborough and Huntingdon, in particular, and think we should have taken maximum points.
“I wouldn’t say I’m devastated, more disappointed. This has always been a two-year plan and I can guarantee everyone that we’ll be much stronger next year.
“We’ll keep the nucleus of the squad and won’t chop and change, which I accept was a big problem for us this time.
“Over the last nine years or so the club has seen relegation battle after relegation battle, so regardless of what has happened this has been a successful season. People forget that we were within three games of Wembley in the FA Vase too.
“But make no mistake about it, my neck is on the line next season. The Spalding job is a big one now and it comes with a lot of pressure. If I don’t achieve our aims next year, I’d expect to be sacked.”
King’s opener (30) on Saturday was the pick of the goals, tapping in after a slick move involving Tony Battersby and Jake Gibson.
Striker Battersby then slipped in captain Canoville to bury the second (39) from close range, before King grabbed the third with a neat finish from a tight angle five minutes into added time.
The Tulips do at least finish as the league’s leading scorers on a whopping 117.
Tulips: Duggan, Canoville (Smedley 60), Thurlbourne, Chamberlain, Jacklin, McGovern, Cotton, Doherty, Battersby (Beeson 46), King, Gibson (Jackson 88).