A late, last-gasp penalty from Dave Meese earned Sporting Khalsa a deserved draw and kept the FA Cup dream alive.
Spalding had clearly done their homework on Ian Rowe’s side, working hard to contain the wide threats and cut out the service to front man Craig Bannister.
And the visitors took the lead just after a minute, impressive fleet footed winger Josh Moreman picking up the ball on the flank, cutting in and firing a shot which appeared to take a slightly lucky bounce to elude James Pemberton and end up in the back of the net.
The early goal altered the dynamic of the game completely, a bumper record Aspray Arena crowd of over 500 subdued and Spalding able to put into effect a highly effective containment strategy.
This meant there were very few clear cut chances during the game, although the intense battles around the pitch were enough to keep the spectators engaged.
Bannister had two efforts blocked by the drilled and organised Spalding defence on 32 minutes and three minutes later the same player curled a free kick over the bar from 20 yards.
Spaulding – who probably had just the better of the first half on balance – pushed on a little in the dying stages of the first half, first Nialle Rodney had a shot from a good position deflected into the air and then Adam Jackson blazed a shot well over Pemberton’s crossbar.
But Khalsa were much the better team after the break, fighting against some reasonably apparent slowing down of the game by the visitors.
Mensah Kinch‘s cross from the right on 49 minutes narrowly evaded Bannister and a long range effort by Marvin Nisbett on 51 minutes stung goalkeeper Michael Duggan’s hands as he palmed it into the air before collecting it.
On 58 minutes, Meese needed to be on his toes to intercept a cross bound for Rodney, the midfielder ending a rare dangerous move forward by Spalding. And then, on 66 minutes, Brad Lawley was just unable to connect to a Tim Jackson cross at the far post.
Khalsa boss Ian Rowe took the gamble, shifting the formation to something more attacking in an attempt to force the equaliser. And, well into injury time, the Spalding timewasting strategy backfired slightly as Nisbett was brought crashing down by Duggan, who somewhat mysteriously wasn’t dismissed.
With regular penalty takers Bannister and Jackson removed from the action, up stepped the super-calm Meese to fire home the penalty and send the home fans into raptures.