Duggan & Co Inspire Tulips To Three Massive Points
The Tulips custodian was in sparkling form - as were all - to keep out Kiddy, as the Tulips recorded thier first win of 2018!...
The Tulips turned in a five-star performance against Kidsgrove Athletic at The Grove on Saturday to secure three highly valuable NPL Evo-Stik South points, thanks in no small measure to a superbly-delivered free-kick by Daniel Brooks on 34 minutes, and climb two places up the ladder.
It was their first three-pointer on the road since the 2-1 victory at Romulus way back in October 2017. It also ended a five-game winless run and gained sweet revenge for the 3-1 home defeat inflicted by Kidsgrove on January 27th.
That game saw newly-appointed team captain Gary King pick up a red card and on Saturday there was an unfortunate repeat performance. Returning after a three-match ban, King was a second-half replacement for the injured Jonny Lockie but two cautions in as many minutes (the first for needlessly kicking the ball away and the second for retaliating to a fierce tackle), left his team to battle out the remaining quarter of the game in challenging conditions.
The Tulips had suffered a set-back before kick-off with vice-captain Neal Spafford injured during the pre-game warm up. The ever reliable Ellis Humble stepped up from the subs bench to cover the void and Ben Davison took the skipper’s armband.
To a man the Tulips were superb, giving their all to achieve their aim, and they did it by playing some great football, creating chances from the start and denying the home attack time and time again. The usual threat of the home team’s strike force of Anthony Malbon and Lee Cropper got the full respect they demanded, so much so that Malbon departed the scene after just 38 minutes.
Understandably, after going a player down the pressure began to show. On a very sticky pitch, saturated by heavy over- night rain, the home side began to take advantage, but they were to be denied by the heroics of goalkeeper Michael Duggan who pulled off some super saves, particularly as the game went into added-time at the end of the game.
Kidsgrove had the first scoring opportunity of the game after just seven minutes when the dangerous Cropper broke free, but his close-range shot was way off target.
Three minutes later Ben Davison had the ball in the home net following a neat inter change between Tom Siddons and Conor Marshall. But the effort was disallowed for off side. Shortly afterwards a Daniel Brooks 30 yards free kick was pushed away by ‘keeper Dave Parton and this was quickly followed by Siddons testing the ‘keeper. Cenk Acar also went near following a trademark jinking run.
The deadlock was finally broken on 34 minutes via a dead-ball kick from just outside the area. This time the ‘keeper stood no chance as Brooks’ strike, the ball never more than a few inches above the turf, flashed round the ‘wall’ and into the sacking.
The second-half saw much of the same with the Tulips generally dictating the pattern of play. Things got a little harder following the dismissal of King, but the scoring chances were still being created. Matt Varley fed a good pass through to Conor Marshall whose shot was palmed away by Parton. Siddons’ and Davison both had efforts cleared from the line by Charlie Duke, while at the other end Duggan foiled Kyle Diskin with a flying save and in added time he pulled off two more spectacular saves to keep a clean sheet and complete a memorable victory for the team.
It was a tough task picking out a man-of-the-match with so many candidates, but the honour finally went to midfielder Conor Marshall.
It all made for a very happy ride home from the Potteries!
Team: Michael Duggan, Jack Fixter, James Hugo, Matthew Varley, Ben Davison, Ellis Humble, Conor Marshall, Danny Brooks, Tom Siddons (Luke White, 84 mins), Jonny Lockie (Gary King, 46 mins), Cenk Acar. Sub (not used): Alex Smith
Tulips’ Man-of-the-Match: Conor Marshall