Spalding United 1 Cleethorpes Town 2
A late goal completely out of the blue denied the Tulips a share of the NPL EvoStik East Division points on December 22 to end an excellent run, writes Ray Tucker.
The game, keenly contested throughout seemed destined to end all square.
But it all changed with ten minutes remaining when The Owls attacked down the left side.
Tulips keeper Michael Duggan looked set to intercept but lost his footing in his slippery area and gifted Scott Vernan with a perfect Christmas present.
It was a cruel finale to what had been an excellent game to watch and enjoy with plenty of action at both ends.
Best of the opening stages came from the Tulips. The sixth minute saw Kegan Everington’s 12 yard-strike following a half cleared corner, turned round a post by ’keeper Theo Richardson.
Minutes later a super combination between the Wells brothers further tested the visiting defence. Bradley’s fine run and cross saw Kieran force Richardson to save at the second attempt.
Midway through the half there were widespread appeals, for handball in The Owls penalty area, but were ignored and In a follow-up attack Jack Brownell fired inches wide.
Cleethorpes took the lead in the 39th minute. Josh Norman, a 22nd minute substitute for the injured Luke Mascall, rifled the ball past Duggan.
Early after the interval Duggan, despite slipping and sliding, was spread-eagled to block a close range effort from Alex Flett and Conor Marshall was on the spot to clear off the line.
The scores were levelled however, in the 58th minute. Neal Spafford hoisted a long clearance down the right side.
Leon Mettam gained possession and jinked past two defenders before delivering a telling cross over the far side of the penalty area where Kieran Wells pounced to drive the ball into the sacking.
It was nip and tuck for the remainder of the half with positive attacking and stubborn defending by both teams.
Duggan, who was targeted throughout, pulled off a spectacular reflex save to deny Flett.
Unfortunately he was unable to repeat the feat ten minutes from time and The Owls swooped in for a dramatic match winning goal.
* Tulips: Michael Duggan, Conor Marshall, James Hugo, Jack Brownell (Jenk Acar 65 mins), Ellis Humble, Neal Spafford, Kieran Wells, Kegan Everington, Bradley Wells, Ben Davison, Leon Mettam (Luke White 86 mins). Subs not used Liam Marshall, Scott Floyd.
* MOTM Wells.
* Attendance: 133