Spalding United 0
Loughborough Dynamo 2
Two early goals sentenced Spalding United to a disappointing 2-0 loss against Loughborough Dynamo on Saturday – leaving their future in Evo-Stik NPL East Division on a knife-edge with three games left to play.
Strikes from Luke Foster (7) and Alex Steadman (9) were all Dynamo needed at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field, as the Tulips fluffed their lines in a game boss Matt Easton dubbed a “must not lose” fixture before kick-off.
A poor first half was to blame for Spalding’s latest loss, with only keeper Michael Duggan emerging with any kind of credit on the day.
Carlton Town – who occupy the second relegation place – are now just two points behind the Tulips with a game in hand after they drew with Stocksbridge Park Steels and they will face Loughborough on Tuesday night.
Assistant boss Lewis Thorogood said: “The first 25 minutes was horrendous; I can’t dress it up any more than that.
“We deserved to be 2-0 down and it could have been more, let’s be honest.
“We said to the boys in the dressing room, we could easily scream at them and go on and tear into them – which we wanted to do – but it’s not productive.
“The reality is that we’ve got to have a bit of self-pride and belief. In the second half – and don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t Barcelona-esque football – we looked more settled and had a bit of desire to go forward and actually try.
“When the lads put passages of play together, they don’t look too bad. The first 25 minutes, we looked like we weren’t interested and we weren’t here, quite frankly.
“That’s not acceptable. I’m not trying to scaremonger, but I told them that – if they want a relegation on their CV – keep playing like that and it’s fine, if that’s what they really want.
“But I don’t want a relegation on my CV and neither does anybody else, including Matt.
“Granted, they showed more desire in the second half and creditable notes go to Archie Moyses, Taron Hare, Kegan Everington and, in fairness to Leon Mettam, he led the side well and kept talking to them.
“But the lads need to know that they need to step up in the last three games. It’s not going to be easy; Marske (United) is a difficult place to go and it’s a long trip, Brighouse (Town) are obviously right up there and obviously Belper (Town) away is hard work on the final day.”
It took just seven minutes for the away side to open the scoring at a subdued Sir Halley, with Spalding affording Foster the freedom of the penalty area to curl home a clinical into the corner.
Moments later it was 2-0, as the pace of Ryan Robbins on the left tore the Tulips to shreds and Steadman finished easily from close range.
With Jack Fixter forced off injured in the aftermath, it was a nightmare start for the boys in blue.
Steadman almost grabbed his second midway through the half, but his strike from close in was tipped past the post thanks to the feet of Michael Duggan.
That man Duggan was forced into a number of other stops, including keeping out Robbins’ angled drive and a fierce Curtis Burrows volley.
Dynamo should really have led by more, with the Tulips – Duggan aside – producing a truly lethargic first half.
The second period started in a similar manner, with Robbins within a whisker of making it 3-0 with a drive that whistled past Duggan’s near post.
That man Duggan then kept out Steadman’s drive with his legs, with the visitors slicing through at will.
Spalding did muster their first attempt of the afternoon on 57 minutes, but Rudy Misambo’s header from a set-piece was superbly tipped around the post.
The hosts showed much improvement from then on, with Romario Martin seeing a shot deflected just wide and skipper Leon Mettam having a header saved.
Martin put the ball in the net soon afterwards, but was correctly flagged offside.
That was as exciting as the second half got for either side, with the only surprise being that Duggan wasn’t named man of the match.
Tulips: Duggan, Fixter, Marshall, Brownell, Misambo, Hare, Moyses, Everington, Mettam, White, Martin. Subs: Zuerner, Hart, Hugo, Mason, Smith.
Sponsors’ MOTM: Archie Moyses.