Later this morning Spalding United will discover who they'll meet in Round 3 of this season's FA Vase following their superb win at Walsall Wood!...
The Tulips safely negotiated their passage to the third round of the FA Vase after a tough encounter in the West Midlands, writes Ray Tucker.
Fortunately, Jamie Stevens returned following a three-match suspension following his sending off at Holbeach in mid-October and turned in a man-of-the-match performance, while the “big star” was undoubtedly player-coach Danny Hussey who pulled on a blue shirt for the first time this season and played a real blinder at left-back. He made a memorable day unforgettable for himself by scoring the team’s opening goal and did not depart until after the safety-first third goal had been scored in the 83rd minute, being replaced by new signing from Kettering Town, Garfield Robinson.
On entering the dug-out young Danny was overheard saying: “I don’t so much want a drink but more some WD-40 to easy my aching joints”.
Hussey's commitment epitomised the effort of the entire team who had battled in difficult conditions and a against a very robust Walsall side who last season progressed one round further in the competition before making their exit to the Tulips’ conquerors, Guernsey, after a replay.
The Tulips were clearly up for the challenge from the start and but for some desperate defending and a few near misses, could so easily have been out of sight before half-time.
As early as the fourth minute leading scorer Andy Tidswell sliced a good effort just wide and it was he, who, after a number of attempts following a Dan Cotton corner had somehow been kept out, sent in a real screamer which Danny Hussey made contact with at the far post to open the scoring on 15 minutes (see photo).
Shortly afterwards Adam Jackson, playing in an unfamiliar left-midfield role, slipped the ball through to Dan Steadman who fired inches wide of the target. Then Nathan Stainfield’s header from a Jamie Stevens free kick found the side netting.
The home team were still very much in the game, challenging robustly for every ball, but the Tulips retained their composure and gained a little more breathing space in the 33rd minute. Tidswell latched onto Steadman’s through pass and rounded ‘keeper Raegen Gill before slotting home.
Tulips’ custodian Michael Duggan, who thus far had not been unduly stretched, earned his keep in the 36th minute when launching himself to turn a stinging free-kick by Harry Harris over a top angle of the goal.
Walsall featured more in attack after the interval but without creating many openings in front of goal, or indeed getting any change from a Spalding defence which is rapidly gaining a reputation for being one of the meanest in non-league football with only eight goals conceded in all competition, and four of these in one game which accounts for the team’s only defeat of the season so far (4-1 to AFC Hornchurch in The FA Cup back on 28th September).
The game was put firmly out of Walsall’s reach in the 83rd minute when a surging left side build-up by the Tulips ended with a beautifully-crafted low drive by Mark Jones under the luckless Gill. Minutes later Jones turned provider for strike partner Andy Tidswell who volleyed inches wide from 12 yards.
The draw for the 3rd Round takes place this every morning at FA headquarters, Wembley - the next round of the competition will be played on Saturday 7th December - weather permitting of course, as we all know how many postponements were endured across the country last season at that time of year!...
Team: Michael Duggan, Lee Canoville, Adam Jackson, Jamie Stevens, Nathan Stainfield, Lewis Webb, Dan Cotton, Dan Steadman, Mark Jones, Andy Tidswell, Danny Hussey (Garfield Robinson, 85 mins). Subs (not used): Alex Lowery, Marcus Ebdon, Tom Roberts.
Tulips' Man-of-the-Match: Jamie Stevens