MATCH VERDICT AND VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Spalding United held at home
Spalding United and bottom-of-the-table Romulus played out a combative draw at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field.
Chris Rawlinson’s Tulips extended their home unbeaten run to three games while Romulus came into the game in inconsistent form having earned five points in their last four games, desperate for a win to climb up the table.
It was Romulus that started the brightest. Stephen Palmer’s header from Callum Williams’ corner in the opening minute was the first of a flurry of chances for Richard Evans and Andy Turner’s side.
Spalding continually gave away free-kicks in dangerous areas and after plenty of warning signs, the Tulips were lucky to not find themselves behind after Palmer once again headed wide, this time from Kris Taylor’s in-swinging delivery.
However, after a quarter of an hour they began to create chances of their own. Jenk Acar dribbled down the right and crossed for Lee Beeson who was beaten to the ball by captain Cameron Lee.
The hosts’ pressure soon told, though. Wing-back James Hugo’s cross from the left was spilled by debutant goalkeeper Curtis Hall, giving Conor Marshall an easy chance to poke home from inside the six-yard box into an empty net.
Romulus immediately looked for a way back into the game as they looked to close the gap on Peterborough Sports and Carlton Town above them in 20th and 21st respectively. Evans and Turner’s instructions from the sidelines were clear - they expected nothing but a victory.
Marshall gave away another free-kick on the edge of Spalding’s area almost immediately after the restart, after tripping winger Reece Hutchinson. Taylor’s resulting delivery from the left was met by striker Malachi Farquharson who headed wide from six yards unmarked.
Spalding countered to briefly put an end to the continual Romulus pressure but the visitors soon came back at them. Jordan Francis broke down the right after being released by Hall’s throw and won a corner after his cross was deflected behind by Hugo.
From the resulting cross, Romulus won a penalty with the half-time whistle close.
Michael Duggan spilled Williams’ delivery then as Zak Lilly attempted to reach the loose ball, he was brought down by Neal Spafford and referee Gareth Davis immediately pointed to the spot.
Duggan, though, atoned for his error. He saved superbly low to his right from Lilly’s penalty, which seemed to instil belief and new-found confidence in the tiring Spalding defence.
In fact Romulus were limited to only long-distance efforts as Spalding held firm in the second half, with Ellis Humble being particularly dominant in the air.
Eventually Romulus found the equaliser that they perhaps deserved, particularly after seeing so many chances go spare in the first half. Palmer rose highest to head the visitors level with little over a quarter of an hour to go.
Spalding did well to see the game out as Romulus searched for a winner. Strikers Karter O’Neill-Martin and Hildeberto Santos were brought on in the latter stages to try to steal a winner, but the game finished level.
5-3-2: Duggan 7; Marshall 8, Fixter 7, Humble 8, Spafford 6, Hugo 8; King 6, Jackson 7, Beeson 6; Tricks 6 (sub Couzens 77 mins), Acar 5 (sub Lockie 67 mins, 6). Subs not used: Neil, Smith.
4-4-2: Hall; Cotterill, Taylor, Lee, Williams; Francis, Coyle, Palmer, Hutchinson; Farquharson (sub Santos 81 mins), Lilly (sub O’Neill-Martin 57 mins). Subs not used: Evans, Deakin, Spink.
Marshall (21 mins, 1-0); Palmer (73 mins, 1-1).
Lee, Cotterill, Lockie (fouls); Farquharson (diving).
Carlton Town (A) – Saturday.