Fine Easter sends Tulips top of the league before final four

Spalding United enjoyed a brilliant Easter weekend that brought six points and a return to the top of the league with four games remaining.

The Tulips won 3-0 at Shepshed Dynamo on Saturday and 2-0 at home to Hinckley LR on Monday.
And with Harborough Town suffering a surprise 2-0 home defeat to previously bottom of the table AFC Rushden and Diamonds on Monday, Spalding are back top of the Pitching In Northern Premier League Midland Division.
Spalding went in at half time in both Easter matches 2-0 to the good.
At Shepshed on Saturday it was a particularly quick start.
In the sixth minute a good bit of work from Jordan Graham on the edge of the area saw him slide in Riley O’Sullivan whose effort was blocked behind by the keeper for a corner.
From it, Nathan Stainfield was unmarked at the back post with his diving header giving the keeper no chance for a 1-0 lead.
It was 2-0 in the 11th minute when Graham capitalised on a loose Shepshed pass at the back and fed O’Sullivan who was going away from goal when a Dynamo defender bundled into the back of him.
O’Sullivan’s penalty was perfectly placed in the corner to beat the keeper who dived the right way.
The points were sealed in the 65th minute when another Lewis Hilliard corner went to the back post and Sam Cartwright rose highest to make it 3-0.
“It was a real professional away performance,” Elliot Sandy said. “We got a couple of early goals and then managed the game really well.
“It was a difficult pitch to play football on which affected both teams, so it wasn’t a classic.”
Spalding were again 2-0 to the good against Hinckley Leicester Road at half time.
The visitors to the Sir Halley are in the play-off positions but the Tulips rarely looked in trouble after an initial opening burst from Hinckley who went close with an effort from the edge of the area by the lively Aaron Nuttall.
Spalding nearly took the lead in the 25th minute when Cartwright’s header from a Hilliard free kick came back off the inside of the post and into the keeper’s hands.
But they were in front moments later with yet another Hilliard corner to the back post which Stainfield converted with a diving header that was almost identical to the opener against Shepshed.
The Hinckley right back came within a yard of scoring from his own half with an attempted lob of Tony Breedon before Stainfield put another back post header from a set piece just wide.
Another such header from the same player found the net but the goal was ruled out for a foul.
It was 2-0 just before the break, O’Sullivan finding Kieron Dawes in acres of space up the pitch and he finished well.
In the second half the Hinckley keeper had to be at full stretch to keep out a Hilliard direct free kick attempt, while the Tulips thought they had a third when a free-kick wasn’t cleared and sub Graham’s bundled effort was deemed to have not crossed the goal line.
Graham could have scored twice more, having a one-on-one saved by the keeper before twisting and turning around two defenders but putting his effort just wide.
At the other end, Spalding defended excellently again ensuring Breedon was rarely troubled.
Assistant manager James Clifton said: “Hinckley played really well for the first 15 minutes and it took us that time to get used to the formation they were playing, but after that we were the better side for the rest of the match.
“With four games to go we’re in a wide open title race which brings its own pressure and I thought the lads did really well.
“There were moments in that first 15 minutes where they had to stick together and defend really well.
“The quality has grown, we scored two goals and we created a few more chances where it could have been four or five.
“The lads have worked really hard for the last two weeks with four games.
“We’ll now just focus on the weekend and put everything into that.”
For the run in Spalding have signed Isaac Adegoke on loan from Halesowen Town.
He played for Lye Town against the Tulips earlier this season.
Sandy said: “Isaac has been a player we’ve been keeping an eye on for some time, he was one of the best players on the pitch when we played them earlier on in the season and rightly so he got his chance to play higher.
“I’m delighted to get his services at an important time of the season for us and look forward to working with him.”

Tulips v Shepshed Dynamo: Breedon, Draper, Warburton, Dawes, Stainfield, Cartwright, Hilliard, Barker, O’Sullivan, Graham, Adegoke, Subs: Walker, Sherif, Curtis, Bennett, Winters.
Attendance: 199.
Tulips v Hinckley LR: Breedon, Dawes, Warburton, Walker, Stainfield, Cartwright, Hilliard, Curtis O’Sullivan, Winters, Adegoke, Subs: Draper Walker, Sherif, Barker, Bennett, Graham.
Attendance: 398.

Top of table P W D L GD Ps
Spalding 34 24 5 5 46 77
Harborough 33 24 5 5 51 76
Anstey Nom 32 21 9 2 46 72
Loughboro 34 18 7 9 15 61
Hinckley 34 17 9 8 11 60
Quorn 33 17 8 8 20 59

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