Tulips Play-Off Hopes On A Knife-Edge
When a win was desperately needed to maintain control of their own destiny, the Tulips were found wanting at Tividale...
The Tulips hopes of making the Play-Offs in Division One South of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League are on a knife-edge, following Tuesday’s draw at form team Tividale.
Based on results from the last ten matches 'Tivi' were the league leaders so the Tulips knew in advance that they were in for a testing evening, and so it proved to be.
In truth there was little to choose between the two teams and the Tulips were worthy of their slender half-time advantage. However, the shift in power was to change after the break with manager Pat Rayment forced into making an important personnel change.
Award-winning centre-half Nathan Stainfield, who was thought likely to miss the closing games of the season through injury, declared himself fit and was included in the line-up, as usual playing an integral part at the heart of a solid defence. Unfortunately, he received a hard knock on his troublesome shoulder and failed to appear for the second period.
Chris Hall dropped back as cover alongside Jamie Stevens and did a sterling job, but the team missed his control and drive from the midfield, allowing Tividale to feature more which they achieved with some controlled, quality passing football.
Goalkeeper Alex Pycock, deputising for the ill Michael Duggan, was continually tested - often it has to be said in situations arising from his own actions.
On a number of occasions he raced outside his 18-yard area, almost making the manager’s short cropped hair to begin to curl. But it brought added pressure on his defensive colleagues.
Also missing from the squad was skipper Michael Leary due to family illness.
To his credit, Pycock did make a fine save midway through the first-half, diving full length to turn Mitchell Botfield’s angled free-kick round a post.
The Tulips broke the stalemate on 36 minutes. One of Jamie Thurlbourne’s trademark long throws was headed backward into the area by Stainfield and Matt Nolan forced the ball home following a goalmouth melee.
Two minutes before the interval the Tulips were only inches away from extending their lead when Tom Waumsley’s effort on the turn whistled over the bar.
End to end play prevailed in the second-half with the Tulips' best effort headed into the side netting on 75 minutes. A minute later the scores were level. A free-kick was needlessly conceded just outside the area. The resultant set-piece saw the ball chipped over the defence to find Karl Edwards who beat a static Pycock with some ease.
Shortly afterwards more controlled play by the home team ended with substitute David Bellis firing just wide.
Lee Beeson and Avelino Vieira were introduced to the play at the expense of Matt Nolan and Jamie Thurlbourne with ten minutes remaining and 'Avi' forced a fine save from Charlie Price with a firm header.
Team: Alex Pycock, Dan Banister, Adam Jackson, Jamie Stevens, Nathan Stainfield (Jack McGovern, 46), Lewis Webb, Mitch Griffiths, Chris Hall, Tom Waumsley, Matt Nolan (Lee Beeson, 80 mins), Jamie Thurlbourne (Avelino Vieira, 80 mins). Sub (not used): George Stainfield
Tulips' Joint Men-of-the-Match: Adam Jackson/Jamie Stevens