An 80th minute equaliser to make the scores 1-1 was the least the host Tulips deserved in a battling local derby against near-neighbours Stamford AFC at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field on Saturday 23rd February.
However, late heartache seemed to be on the cards for the hosts once again when Stamford skipper Jake Duffy fired home from close-range in the 86th minute to give the visiting Daniels what seemed to be all three points. These days though, Matt Easton's Tulips prove they're made of stern stuff and they refused to wilt or feel sorry for themselves in the face of such a late setback and continued to try and salvage something from the match.
A free-kick in the 96th minute was beautifully delivered by Kegan Everington and Bradley Wells (the man who'd given the Tulips their first equaliser after a fine nod across the box by sub George Zuerner) rose majestically to steer his header past the despairing dive of Dan Haystead and into the corner of the net - cue home pandemonium (see photo) and visitor despair!
The referee blew for full-time almost immediately after the Daniels' restarted the match and the hosts had pulled off an unlikely comeback against opponents who'd still harboured notions of a place in the end-of-season play-offs, prior to kick-off: those hopes tonight look a little more fanciful.
The contest was by no means a classic; it's hard to muster quality passing football on a surface which really doesn't belong at this elevated level of non-league football, let alone Sunday park leagues. That said, there was a keen tendency by both teams to air the ball far too often for spectator comfort, especially considering some of the talent on display.
The Daniels had taken an eighth minute lead through Rob Morgan, capitalising on a defensive mix-up to drive competently beyond the flailing dive of Michael Duggan who found himself horribly stranded following Taron Hare's unfortunate miscue.
Throughout the match there was little to choose between the teams in terms of ability or commitment and when Wells made it 1-1 with a far-post tap in, the game could have swung either way.
The visitors and their fans thought they'd be singing their way home when Duffy gave them that late advantage; one can only assume it was a sombre mood post-match for the Daniels, having squandered the chance to cling on to what would have been an invaluable 3pts. For the Tulips, a point gained on a day when many of their lower-half rivals failed to gather any points could yet prove to be massive.
The Tulips centre-half Neal Spafford was once again immense at the hesrt of defence (as had been Liam Marshall prior to having to go off injured midway through the second period); Spaff duly collected the Tulips' Man-of-the-Match bubbly, presented by The Tulips Social Club. Today's attendance was 225 - a huge 'Thank You' to all who filed through the turnstiles!
All in all, a draw was probably the fairest result and tonight it looks like these two teams might well be facing each other home & away again in 2019/20...
You can read Press Officer Ray Tucker's full Match Report via the following link:-
Match Report: Tulips v Stamford AFC (23.02.19)
TULIPS' NEXT HOME MATCH
Saturday 23rd March 2019
NPL Evo-Stik East Division
Spalding United v Stocksbridge Park Steels
Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field
Youths (12-16): £2.00
Accompanied U12s: FREE!