TULIPS: Strikers blamed as Spalding stutter

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HUNTINGDON TOWN 1 SPALDING UNITED 1: Pat Rayment rued his sides’ profligacy in front of goal as the Tulips lost more ground in the UCL Premier Division title race on Saturday.

All looked to be going to plan for third-placed Spalding when the in-form Dan Cotton netted a deserved opener on 25 minutes.

But an uncharacteristic error from keeper Michael Duggan allowed Huntingdon skipper Ricky Dear in for a leveller three minutes from time, leaving the Tulips 21 points behind league leaders Holbeach United.

Rayment refused to blame his number one for the dropped points, insisting his talented team had more than enough chances – including a spurned 40th-minute Tony Battersby penalty –to win at Jubilee Park.

“If you don’t take your chances, you won’t win football games,” said the Spalding supremo. “A lot of managers are too quick to blame their keepers.

“Yes, Michael has made a mistake, but it shouldn’t have mattered – we should have been out of sight.

“It’s a massive two points dropped really and you have to say that Holbeach are now very much the favourites.”

Huntingdon enjoyed the better of the first ten minutes, but from then on Spalding had large periods of dominance.

They were rewarded with an opener when Jamie Thurlbourne’s super pass caused confusion in the box, allowing Cotton to tap home on 25 minutes.

A pivotal moment in the game then saw Battersby – who had earlier missed a one-on-one chance – win and take a penalty five minutes before the break. However, his well-struck effort was superbly saved by home keeper Enol Ordonez.

It proved to be a costly miss as Duggan made a mess of a late punch, allowing Dear to sweep home an unlikely equaliser.

Tulips: Duggan, Canoville, Thurlbourne, Fuff, Jacklin, Steadman (Smedley 75), Cotton (Kennedy 60), Hall, Battersby, King (Doherty 78), Kirk. Not used: Hussey, McCready.

Saturday: Spalding Utd v Newport Pagnell (3pm).