Spalding 1 Long Sutton 2
Long Sutton took the derby-day honours and inflicted a big blow to Spalding’s title hopes.
With promotion already guaranteed, the hosts wanted to press home their championship chase with an 18th successive league win.
Third-placed Sutton felt they deserved the victory through two decisive periods of each half when in two separate 12 to 15-minute bursts they switched to a power play game plan which left Spalding somewhat chasing shadows.
Sutton had the better of a nervy start with periods of scrappy play from both sides.
Lisa Baker twice went close while Leanne Woodhead also had a couple of chances before Sutton took the lead midway though the first half.
Baker picked up a loose ball and passed into player of the match Emma Howell who reacted sharply to fire the ball into Spalding’s goal.
Spalding started the second half brighly but again met solid resistance from Sutton and were unable to find that crucial goal.
Sutton became stronger, played the ball well through the midfield and increased their lead midway through the half.
Spalding were struggling to contain the Sutton pressure and conceded two short corners quickly, the first came to nothing but the second inflicted more pain and misery on the leaders as Woodhead fired home.
Almost immediately Woodhead went close to making it three when she fired a shot which struck the post and the ricochet across goal fell kindly to a defender who cleared the danger.
Spalding battled back and were rewarded when skipper Kelly Tuplin smacked home a short corner for the team’s 100th goal of the season.
As time ticked by Sutton were becoming the more anxious to hear the final whistle but they would have to handle one last bit of drama as they conceded a short corner right on full-time for a last moment of defiance.
A fantastic all-round team performance leaves Sutton on track for an improvement on fourth last season. They would make sure of this with a win against City of Peterborough 2nd at home on Saturday.