Brighouse Town 3 Spalding United 1
Holiday fixtures, particularly those around Christmas are traditionally all about local derby games, writes Ray Tucker, but the Tulips’ activity on Boxing Day involved a journey of 238 miles.
But four hours on congested motorways into the West Riding of Yorkshire was rewarded with a 3-1 defeat to second placed and promotion chasing Brighouse Town.
The final result was not a fair reflection on the state of play with the Tulips fully involved throughout with a display which brought very favourable comments from home club officials.
A very unfortunate deflected shot on 25 minutes was all that separated the two teams in the first half. James Hurtley’s drive from 20 yards struck Kegan Everington on his back and flew past a wrong footed Michael Duggan.
Only minutes before home keeper Jordan Porter saved bravely at the feet of Bradley Wells and in the 34th minute, Luke White cut inside only to see his well struck shot slide inches wide.
Two minutes before the interval Brad Wells latched onto a telling pass from brother Kieran but was denied by an excellent save by Porter.
Only a goal down at the break the Tulips were very much in the game, but the situation changed on 55 minutes.
A penetrating cross into the Tulips’ area was misread by Conor Marshall, who otherwise had an excellent game, leaving Zephaniah Thomas a simple scoring opportunity.
Almost immediately Marshall was engaged at the other end, pinging a free kick high into the home area.
Skipper Ben Davison made contact but his firm header was just over.
However, the game was put beyond reach for the Tulips on 61 minutes. The defence struggled to clear the ball in a packed goal area and Aaron Martin took full advantage to force the ball home at the far post.
To their credit the Tulips battled gamely.
Porter pulled out a super fingertip save to turn an inswinging corner kick by Conor Marshall over the bar and then the keeper was at full stretch to gather a Brad Wells shot on the line.
Reward for the Tulips did arrive with 15 minutes remaining with the best goal of the day.
Winning possession inside the home area Kieran Wells, under some degree of pressure, worked space to get in a shot which looped over a well protected goalmouth and enter the net via a top angle of the woodwork, his third goal in as many matches. Minutes later the keeper again denied Brad and just before the end Leon Mettam was unceremoniously brought down in the area but received nothing from the officials.
* Tulips: Michael Duggan, Conor Marshall, James Hugo, Jack Brownell, Ellis Humble, Neal Spafford, Kieran Wells, Kegan Everington (Jenk Acar 68mins), Bradley Wells, Ben Davison (Leon Mettam 78 mins), Luke White (Liam Marshall 68mins). Sub (not used) Jack Fixter.
* MOTM Wells.
* Attendance: 201