Huntingdon Town 2 Spalding United 0
Champions Spalding were handed their first away defeat of the UCL Premier Division season on Saturday as Huntingdon boosted their hopes of finishing as runners-up.
In undoubtedly the game of the day anywhere in the UCL, the Tulips were left stunned by second-half strikes from Declan Rogers (58) and Ben Seymour-Shove (89) at Jubilee Park.
The loss is just Spalding’s second in the league this term – but there was a hint of ‘end of season syndrome’ in their performance.
Boss Pat Rayment was left raging after the game, telling The Voice that a number of players have now cost themselves a future at the club.
He said: “I’m not having that at all. The performance was disgraceful, the players didn’t turn up.
“It’s the worst performance I’ve witnessed in two-and-a-half years here.
“Actually, I don’t think it merits being called a performance. Some of them have blown it big time and have cost themselves a future here at Spalding United.
“This should be a great week for the club, with us lifting the UCL Premier Division title on Saturday.
“But they’ve ruined it for myself and (assistant boss) Marcus Ebdon. We were totally unrecognisable and I just won’t have it.”
The first period had a very ‘end of season’ feel, with neither side doing enough to go ahead. Lee Beeson’s fierce 25-yard drive stung the palms of Ryan Rayner in what was the Tulips’ best chance, while Dan Cotton blazed a half-volley over from just outside the box.
At the other end, a Rogers corner wreaked havoc as it flashed across the face of goal – but the hosts created little else.
That all changed in the second period, with Rogers firing Town ahead from their first attempt on target. He broke clear on the right and lashed a fierce drive across the goal, with Tom Roberts unlucky not to keep it out after getting fingertips on the ball.
The dangerous Seymour-Shove then dragged a good chance wide after getting in on the left-hand side, with Spalding looking a little shell-shocked.
Tulips sub Danny Steadman and fellow midfielder Lewis Webb both had strikes blocked as the visitors searched for a leveller, but it was Huntingdon who now looked the more likely and they rattled the far post when Seymour-Shove unleashed a low cross-shot from the right.
Josh Ford then saw a late effort ruled out for offside, before the home side sealed a famous victory when top scorer Seymour-Shove got in behind Adam Jackson and calmly finished past Roberts after racing unopposed from the half-way line.
Spalding felt the striker was offside, but the elated Huntingdon players and fans didn’t care one jot.
With two games left – Huntindon (again) at home on Saturday (3pm) and Deeping Rangers away on Easter Monday (3pm) – Spalding must now win both if they are to finish on 100 points for the season.
Tulips: Roberts, Allen, Jackson, Stevens (Ford 63), Stainfield, Watson, Beeson, Webb, Jones, Cotton (Steadman 63), Thurlbourne (Hall 80). Not used: Hussey, Duggan.