MATCH VERDICT AND VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Issues to be sorted for Spalding United
The analysis sounds simple for Spalding United.
It’s so easy for the Tulips – all they need to do right now is stop giving away soft goals and start converting more chances!
Those issues at both ends of the pitch keep happening, though.
Ultimately, they must sort it out soon to mount another promotion challenge.
A fifth defeat sent last season’s play-off finalists into mid-table – but at this stage, of course, still within touching distance of the pack.
Unbeaten pair Basford United and Cleethorpes Town already appear to be ready for a title fight.
Both have won at the Sir Halley Stewart Field – and each time, Spalding gifted an early two-goal lead.
On Tuesday night, at least the Tulips showed spirit to fight back.
They created plenty of opportunities and should have got back themselves on level terms.
Goalkeeper Saul Deeney was not tested often enough as a series of chances missed the target.
He was forced into saves from Paul Walker and Jamie Jackson while Gary King’s late effort was disallowed for offside.
A positive performance – particularly in the second half – got no reward because too many chances went high or wide.
Basford were given a real test as they preserved a 100 per cent away record.
But they got off to a dream start and Spalding paid the price.
Michael Duggan denied Courey Grantham in only the second minute but Connor Bartle’s long throw-in caused chaos moments later.
Nobody wanted to take responsibility around the six-yard box and the ball bounced off Ellis Humble for an own goal at the far post.
Jenk Acar wasted a golden chance then Duggan failed to keep out Liam Hearn’s long-range shot into the bottom corner.
King responded almost immediately with a lob over Deeney.
Walker went close to an equaliser and Spalding had more opportunities at the start of the second half.
Despite plenty of pressure, the Tulips allowed Hearn to find space behind the back four again.
Neal Spafford brought him down for a blatant penalty and Hearn converted from the spot.
He could have completed a hat-trick, notably in stoppage time when a shot clipped the top of the bar.
To their credit, Spalding gave it everything and this level of effort should earn points.
But they can’t continue to give away goals and miss clear-cut chances, especially against the better teams.
4-4-2: Duggan 6; Walker 7, Spafford 6 (sub Lockie 83 mins), Humble 6, A Jackson 7; Lemon 7, Marshall 8, Beeson 8, Acar 7; King 7, J Jackson 7. Subs not used: Maslen-Jones, Fixter, Clarke, McGhee.
3-5-2: Deeney; Carr, Roma, Fenton; Grayson, Thornhill, Wilson (sub Wells 16 mins), Reid, Bartle (sub Tabreham 53 mins); Hearn, Grantham (sub Wakefield 89 mins). Sub not used: Brown.
Humble og (2 mins, 0-1); Hearn (11 mins, 0-2); King (13 mins, 1-2); Hearn pen (66 mins, 1-3).
Grayson, Lemon, Spafford (fouls).
Lee Beeson – welcome return for another spell with the Tulips. Central role and set-pieces will create more chances.
Sheffield (H) – October 14.