Stalemate Chills As Much As The Bitter Wind
Huff and puff as they might neither team could serve up any goals to warm the gathered throng of 110!...
The blank scoreline v Market Drayton Town speaks volumes for this NPL Evo-Stik South encounter at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field on Saturday but, considering the Tulips' precarious position close to the relegation trapdoor, one has to console oneself that a point gained was better than none at all for the host side!
It’s as you were in the lower reaches of the division, with only Gresley FC (botton of the pile before start of play), springing a major surprise by beating runaway leaders Basford United 1-0 at the Moat Ground to climb off the bottom rung of the ladder. All other teams from the Tulips (15th) downwards all featured in drawn games; close neighbours Peterborough Sports' mini-revival came to a juddering halt with a 4-0 defeat at Alvechurch FC but our other near-rivals, Stamford AFC maintained their play-off place charge with a 1-0 win at Newcastle Town.
The much-maligned Sir Halley Stewart pitch has taken a real hammering (verbally & literally) in recent weeks, but a few days without rain made all the difference. Thanks to the diligent efforts of the South Holland & District Council Groundworks team. the arena had something of a sparkle. It’s just a pity the quality of the surface did not rub off on the performances of both teams on Saturday afternoon.
The game was largely devoid of clear-cut scoring opportunities with the shots that were on target not really bothering goalkeepers Michael Duggan and Mate Dsczki; that said, on reflection the visiting custodian was at full stretch to save a couple of Tulips' efforts from Cenk Acar and King’s Lynn Town loanee Tom Siddons, who also had a fifth-minute header cleared from the line by James Bennett.
However, these early flourishes did not develop and the half-time interval arrived with the teams still in a stalemate situation. New signing Danny Brooks (who joined on a permanent basis this week from fellow Evo-Stik South side Lincoln United) replaced Lee Beeson for the second-half and added a new dimension to the play. A well-delivered free-kick of his found Siddons near the far post but Siddo's header flew just over the bar.
Acar, in typical fashion, jinked ('JenkTheJink'?...) past a few players as his custom but failed to complete the movement and was stopped in his tracks. The visitors went down to ten men on 56 minutes when Jeff Watkins was sent for an early bath following a second bookable offence.
When Drayton moved into home territory they got little change from the defensive barrier provided by GH Security Systems' Man-of-the-Match Matt Varley (pictured in action v Park Steels on 10/2/18), Ellis Humble and skipper Neal Spafford, who were all superb throughout.
Team: Michael Duggan, Jack Fixter, James Hugo, Matt Varley, Ellis Humble, Neal Spafford, Paul Walker (Ben Davison, 30 mins), Lee Beeson (Daniel Brooks, 45 mins), Thomas Siddons, Jonny Lockie (Luke White, 75 mins), Cenk Acar. Sub (not used): Alex Smith
Tulips' Man-of-the-Match, sponsored by Match Sponsor, GH Security Systems: Matt Varley
Match Report by Tulips' Press Officer: Ray Tucker
This coming Saturday 3rd March the Tulips travel to South Yorkshire for a re-arranged league fixture against Sheffield FC (KO: 3.00pm).
The Tulips are next in HOME action on Tuesday 13th March (KO: 7.45pm) with the arrival of high-flying Frickley Athletic to South Lincolnshire. Hot on the heels of that game, four days later - on Saturday 17th March - we look forward to hosting Derbyshire-based Belper Town for another vitally important home encounter (KO: 3.00pm).
All involved with Spalding United FC hope we'll be able to welcome plenty of you into the hallowed old ground for those key home fixtures!