Evo-Stik East Division
Spalding United 1 Wisbech Town 2
It was not the start to the New Year Spalding United wanted as they lost to a Wisbech side who began 2019 second from bottom in the Evo-Stik East.
A defensive horror show which saw Conor Marshall put through his own net in the 62nd minute proved decisive with the Tulips second best after that incident.
Wisbech’s win was all too comfortable as Spalding struggled to create anything in the second half in front of a New Year’s Day crowd of 250 at the Sir Halley Stewart.
United had looked dangerous in a much more even first half that was a real contrast of styles.
Spalding looked to get the ball up to their front three of the Wells brothers, Kieran and Bradley and Leon Mettam as quickly as possible while Wisbech also looked to get in behind their opponents but by playing it on the deck and running between the lines.
It led to a frantic opening 15 minutes, particularly after Wisbech took a fifth minute lead.
Tony Hilliard broke the offside trap to win the corner from the right. The ball in then dropped to the forward with his back to goal but he turned superbly and shot home through a crowd of players to give the visitors the lead.
Spalding’s response was instant. A ball was lifted through to Kieran Wells whose first effort was blocked by Wisbech keeper Daniel Swan and the rebound bobbled on to the post before being scrambled clear.
At the other end Danny Setchell beat the offside trap but not keeper Michael Duggan the stopper only succeeded in side footing it to Eoin McQuade. He couldn’t control the bobbling ball and his lob towards the empty goal barely reached the penalty area, never mind the goal.
Wells then probably should have done better when the ball was pumped forward towards Mettam battling with a defender. It fell kindly to Wells with a clear sight of goal but he side footed wide.
Infuriatingly for Spalding, throughout the 90 minutes they were caught offside on a regular basis as the game began to settle down.
But they did get level on 36 minutes. Mettam was fouled with a misjudged challenge while attempting to control a high ball into the box. He himself slotted the fine penalty into the bottom left hand corner.
There was always a bit of needle in the game and just before the break Wisbech’s Danny Setchell was lucky to not be sent off for what looked like a stamp on the face of Mettam.
Spalding did not get going at all in the second half. Ben Davison did win a free kick in a great position on the edge of the area for the Tulips but Mettam skewed it well wide.
It proved to be the final chance Spalding created in the game as Wisbech took control after going 2-1 up on 62 minutes. Great work from Michael Frew down the right led to a mix-up between keeper Duggan and Conor Marshall, the latter only able to bundle the cross past his own keeper to make it 2-1.
Wisbech began to control the midfield and the game as the Spalding strikers became more and more isolated while the visitors mopped up the majority of the second balls.
It was they who looked by far the more likely to add to their lead. Michael Frew nearly connected with a ball in from the right and he also produced a moment of quality attempting an excellent chip that just cleared the bar.
McQuaid had an effort from distance well kept out by Duggan which the Tulips then cleared for a corner.
McQuaid was given a free header from the resulting corner but it was cleared off the line.
Wisbech might have been fearing a late onslaught from The Tulips but it never materialised and the visitors took the points to move out of the bottom two.
*Tulips: Michael Duggan, Conor Marshall, James Hugo (Liam Marshall 87), Kegan Everington, Ellis Humble, Jack Fixter, Kieran Wells, Jack Brownell, Bradley Wells, Ben Davison, Leon Mettam (Luke White 70)
* MOTM: Davison.
* Attendance: 250