Sheffield FC 2
Spalding United 1
Once again, Spalding United paid the price for a piece of calamitous defending as they lost 2-1 at Sheffield FC on Saturday.
After battling superbly to cancel out the home side’s early lead with a headed goal by Leon Mettam, the Tulips suffered a total black-out and handed back the advantage to their play-off challengers just 56 seconds later.
The three Evo-Stik East Division points gained lifted Sheffield into fifth position in the table, while the Tulips are still hanging on to 18th spot – just one point off the foot.
After a week lay-off from league action the Tulips were all fired up for the challenge for points on offer in Yorkshire and their overall work rate against a free flowing home team deserved some reward.
Sheffield’s 13th minute opener was somewhat fortuitous following a quickly taken short corner movement.
Former Boston United striker Marc Newsham, whose impressive goalscoring feats include him winning the golden boot in the Conference, unleashed a knee-high shot into a vastly overcrowded Spalding goal area.
He must have been somewhat surprised to see the ball slip just inside the far post without coming into any sort of bodily contact.
The Tulips’ attempt for an immediate reply came from a swift right-side breakaway.
Scott Floyd’s cross into the area found the tightly-marked Ben Davison, but his shot was comfortably saved by Jamie Ingham.
Shortly afterwards the home defence was pressured again and appeals for a clear handball offence were loud and clear, but brought of response from referee Ian Jackson.
Play was hard and fast and from end-to-end, with chances being created.
Spalding keeper Michael Duggan was relieved to see a good effort by Mitchell Dunne glide past his right side post, while at the other end Mettam did get the ball into the home net, only for it to be ruled offside.
The scores were levelled in the 53rd minute. The keeper’s legs denied Kieran Wells, but the resulting corner kick was nodded in by Mettam.
However, the celebrations were short lived with Sheffield breaking swiftly from the restart and Ted Cribley took advantage of a switched-off defence to score.
Only the fingertips of keeper Ingram, who turning a Mettam free kick over the bar in the 67th minute, denied the Tulips of a share of the points as they suffered a fourth successive loss.
Tulips: Duggan, Fixter, Hugo, Brownell (Everington 71), Humble, Spafford (C Marshall 82), Floyd (White 86), Davison, K Wells, Mettam, B Wells. Not used: L Marshall.