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Leek Town
Spalding United
Sat 11 Apr 15:00 - The Evo-Stik League Northern Premier - First Division South Full time Attendance 201

Tulips Edge Closer To Play-Off Dream

Spalding United helped manager Pat Rayment celebrate his 50th birthday in style, after a well-earned point at Leek Town!...

A cracking goal scored from a free-kick by Jamie Thurlbourne, kept the Tulips’ in the play-off mix in Division One South of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League at second-placed Leek Town on Saturday 11th April.

Thurlbourne’s 25-yards thunderbolt into a top corner of the goal – like so many he has pulled out of the bag so far this season – produced the comment: “That’s the best goal I have seen all season”, from no less a judge than match referee William Smallwood, a Football League official from Chester who was set to officiate at the Championship game between Sheffield Wednesday v Brentford this coming Tuesday!

Thurlbourne's 55th minute stunner cancelled out the home team’s advantage which had been won, also following a free-kick, in first-half added time.

It was a tremendous, action-packed encounter between two teams hell-bent on gaining promotion to the Premier Division for next season. But although highly competitive, neither goalkeeper had a save to make throughout the game.

All credit to the Tulips who had to shuffle their pack when their dynamic central defence pair Nathan Stainfield and Jamie Stevens were late withdrawals due to injuries. Chris Hall and an unfit Michael Leary filled the void superbly with former Lincoln United star Hall named the team’s man-of-the-match, and around them in the back line Mitch Griffiths and Adam Jackson did everything that was asked of them, while Lewis Web, Jack McGovern and Dan Bannister worked like Trojans in the midfield.

The best of the early exchanges came from the Tulips. Thurlbourne’s third minute free-kick was headed down by Matt Nolan to Tom Waumsley who’s shot under pressure sailed over the home bar.

Midway through the half the Tulips’ leading scorer was again in the firing line but again failed to test ‘keeper James Martin.

Both teams were cancelling each other out as play continually switched from end to end. A blank scoreline certainly looked likely as the half drew to a close. However, the Tulips conceded a free kick just outside a top angle of the penalty-area and Jordan Johnson’s driven kick to the far side of the area was confidently converted in added time by Karl Espley.

The Tulips came close to an early second-half leveller. Thurlbourne’s free kick was knocked back by Dan Bannister to find Jack McGovern but his header was just the wrong side of the woodwork. However, after ten minutes of play came Jamie Thurlbourne’s superb free-kick which flashed over the wall into a top corner to leave ‘keeper Martin rooted to the spot.

Lee Beeson was introduced to the action on 68 minutes at the expense of Thurlbourne and was full of running, producing one well-judged lob which just missed the top angle of bar & post.

The high-tempo pace of the game continued to the final whistle when everyone had to agree that the 1-1 scoreline was a fair reflection of the general share of the play.

Tulips: Michael Duggan, Mitch Griffiths, Adam Jackson, Chris Hall, Michael Leary, Lewis Webb, Dan Banister, Jack McGovern, Tom Waumsley, Matt Nolan (Avelino Vieira, 84 mins), Jamie Thurlbpurne (Lee Beeson, 68 mins) Subs (not used): Marcus Ebdon, Alex Pycock

Tulips' Man-of-the-Match: Chris Hall

Att: 201

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League table

# Team Pl Pts
1. Mickleover Sports 42 98
2. Leek Town 42 89
3. Newcastle Town 42 87
4. Sutton Coldfield Town 42 83
5. Gresley FC 42 81
6. Stafford Rangers 42 81
7. Spalding United 42 79

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