All pictures by ADRIAN SMITH.

Sandy proud of Tulips after cup final heartache

Lincolnshire County Cup Final

Spalding United 2 Scunthorpe United 3

Spalding United manager Elliot Sandy says he doesn’t know how his side lost as Scunthorpe United came from behind to beat the Tulips 3-2 in the Lincolnshire County Cup Final at Lincoln City’s Sincil Bank.

Sandy was left proud by his Tulips’ performance and effort, particularly in a first half where they found themselves 2-0 up.

But for the second consecutive season it was a county cup final loss for them this time as the National League North side, two levels higher than Spalding, came back to win 3-2.

“Part of me does not understand how we lost that game,” Sandy said. “I thought the lads were absolutely outstanding. To a man they were unbelievable.

“They defended for their lives, we had a great shape and made it hard for Scunthorpe to break us down.

“They always looked dangerous but we looked just as dangerous.

“We were creating chances and Riley O’Sullivan was unbelievable, causing them all sorts of problems right through the game.

“The only disappointing thing for me really is how we started the second half.

“I said they were going to get a rocket from their manager and they were going to come out at us.

“We had to weather that a bit and stand up and be counted.

“From the kick off we slip over, invite the pressure on us, don’t clear our lines and they get a goal early doors.

“That changed the game completely.

“Even then, we were just as good as Scunthorpe.

“It’s harsh that we’ve lost and the way that came about but credit to them for coming back from two goals down. It shows what a good side they are.

“It’s not like us for that to happen. We need to make sure this doesn’t define our season.

“For me and the boys, we’ve got bigger fish to fry.

“We’ve a massive game Saturday and the way things are going we have to win to keep in with a chance of winning the title.

“If it doesn’t go our way and we’re in the play offs nights like tonight put us in good stead for that.

“We were playing in front of a big crowd and we heard the support from Spalding all through the game, so a big thank you to them.

“We did give everything for them. Rest assured we’ve a lot to play for this season.

“We’ll dust ourselves down and go again on Saturday.”

The Tulips started brilliantly with Jordan Graham having an early chance saved before Spalding took a fifth minute lead.

O’Sullivan whipped in a cross that was met by a fine diving header from Danny Draper who gave the Scunthorpe keeper no chance.

The former was a threat throughout and was denied by Scunthorpe keeper Dan Langley again moments later.

At the other other end Tony Breedon didn’t have a save to make until the 23rd minute denying Danny Elliott.

But three minutes later it was 2-0 to the Tulips. After being fed by Sam Bennett, James Clifton powered a low piledriver into the net to double the advantage.

Scunthorpe looked for an immediate response but Breedon was equal to the Scunthorpe forward, particularly when he tipped a Tom Pugh effort from the free kick over the ball.

The Irons came closest in the first half a few minutes before the break when another Breedon sav in the box broke for Dion Sewbie-Ferris but his effort hit the post.

Scunthorpe came out all guns blazing and Sewbie-Ferris’ effort was brilliantly saved by Breedon. From the resulting corner though Spalding failed to clear their lines and Elliott poked home.

While the Irons pressed though, there was space for the Tulips on the break. O’Sullivan put in several dangerous balls in, Lamine Sherif heading one over the bar after a nod down by Draper who himself had a shot blocked moments later.

But on the hour a one-two saw Pugh break into the area only to be brought down by Clifton. Former Boston United striker Elliott made no mistake from the spot to make it 2-2.

It was Spalding’s turn to respond with Clifton putting a header wide while sub Tyler Winters’ sub looked to be sneaking into the goal until Langley made a good save.

Clifton also went close with a shot from a free kick from the edge of the area.

It looked like Spalding might get a third with 10 minutes to go but Winters was only denied by a last gasp block.

But then in the very last minute of the game they were undone by good work from Ross Barrow who put Elliott through for his and Scunthorpe’s third.

Spalding were unable to find a response in injury time as it was Scunthorpe who lifted the trophy.

The Tulips will now look to win their remaining two games starting with a trip to Sporting Khalsa on Saturday and hope that will be enough to lift the Pitching In Northern Premier Division title.

Tulips v Scunthorpe: Breedon, Draper (Freeman 82), O’Sullivan, Warburton, Stainfield, Dawes, Hilliard (Curtis 79), Clifton, Bennett (Barker 66), Graham (Winters 52), Sherif. Subs not used: Walker, Barker, Curtis, Sandy, Adegoke, Freeman.

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