MATCH VERDICT: Spalding United in good shape despite defeat
It took just over four hours to break down Spalding United’s new-look system over the festive period.
Despite a double blow which took Cleethorpes Town into third spot, the Tulips showed enough to ensure the 5-3-2 formation is here to stay.
After successive 2-0 home wins, they looked on course for another maximum haul as Conor Marshall fired the opener on Monday.
The right wing-back’s goal provided further evidence that this shape can work on the attack as well as offering extra protection at the back.
Former Cleethorpes Town man Gary King played a key role in the build-up.
His through-ball towards Jenk Acar earned a throw-in which was taken quickly – giving plenty of time for left wing-back James Hugo to pick the delivery.
King flicked on the cross and Marshall guided a 10-yard volley beyond ex-Spalding loan keeper Richard Walton.
Only two minutes later, Marshall got forward again to fire high over the bar this time.
Jonny Lockie had a couple of efforts before the break and Beeson’s free-kick was held by Walton.
Luke Aldrich missed the target twice for the Owls but Michael Duggan wasn’t called into action until the start of the second half.
However, he was beaten by Aldrich’s 20-yard drive into the far corner.
Cleethorpes won it when substitute Danny North nodded home – but the Tulips were without Ben Davison due to a hamstring injury.
On the basis of his superb performance, it’s pretty fair to assume Davison would have been in the right place at the right time to prevent North’s goal.
Davison was forced off and Spalding switched to a three-man attack in search of a late equaliser.
Local lad Ellis Humble – who learned his trade with Grimsby Town – could have snatched a point in stoppage-time.
The defender moved up front but blasted over then, in the final action, Matt Clarke’s shot was blocked following Beeson’s corner.
4-4-2: Walton; Lowe, Bloomer, Donald, Norburn (sub Oglesby 51 mins); Taylor, Richardson, Dickens, Davis (sub Flett 60 mins); Robertson (sub North 55 mins), Aldrich. Sub not used: Gray.
5-3-2: Duggan 7; Marshall 7, Fixter 7 (sub Floyd 67 mins, 7), Davison 8 (sub Clarke 78 mins), Humble 7, Hugo 7; Beeson 7, King 7, Jackson 7; Acar 7, Lockie 7 (sub Couzens 74 mins). Sub not used: Smith.
Marshall (18 mins, 0-1); Aldrich (61 mins, 1-1); North (77 mins, 2-1).
Ben Davison – aerial ability and communication proving vital at heart of five-man defence.
Sheffield (A) – Saturday.