Ilkeston Town 5 Spalding United 0
Tuesday proved a night to forget for Spalding United as Ilkeston Town handed them their heaviest defeat of the season so far.
The previously in-form Tulips, who were on a fine six-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, were thrashed 5-0 by their Pitching In NPL Midlands Division rivals in Derbyshire.
After an even start, the hosts went ahead on 14 minutes when Spalding keeper Michael Duggan missed a back pass and Billy Bennett used his pace to get on the end of it and find the back of the net.
It got worse for Gaby Zakuani’s Tulips on 20 minutes, when a Bennett cross hit Shane Clarke and deflected past Duggan to give Ilkeston a 2-0 lead.
Despite Spalding’s comeback heroics against Stamford a week earlier, it felt like game over on 34 minutes when Bennett grabbed his second, following up after Alex Troke’s effort was well kept out by Duggan.
That’s how it stayed up until 15 minutes from time, when the Tulips’ evening went from bad to worse.
Paddy Webb was brought down in the box by Ollie Price, who was sent off. Troke stepped up and give The Robins a 4-0 advantage from the spot.
Ilkeston weren’t done there and rounded off the rout when James Carvell raced into the box and pulled the ball back for ex-Stamford man Ollie Brown-Hill to smash home number five in the 78th minute.
The loss leaves Zakuani’s side ninth place in the standings, but they are three points behind fifth-placed Ilkeston with a game in hand.
That comes against Soham Town Rangers at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field on Tuesday night (7.45pm).
However, Spalding have the small matter of an Emirates FA Cup second qualifying round clash with Vanorama National League North side Kettering Town at home on Saturday (3pm).
The Poppies will prove a very tough test, given that they currently sit in seventh place in a division that is two steps higher in the non-league ladder.
The winners of the big clash will net a healthy £3,375 in FA prize money, with the losers also guaranteed to trouser a cool £1,125 from the same fund.
Tulips: Duggan, Price, Cartwright, Ward, Flitton, Floyd, Clarke, Bucciero, Yala, Assombalonga, Macleod.