Super sub Simeon Townsend made history for Khalsa, his header on 80 minutes putting his team into the Fourth Round Qualifying of the FA Cup and a massive home tie against either FC United of Manchester or Buxton.
The result made Spalding’s time-wasting and containment strategy in the first game – which eventually backfired in the shape of a 93rd minute equaliser – appear all the more baffling.
With three first choice players missing – Mike Perks on holiday and defenders Carlo Franco and Joe Rogers through suspension – Khalsa boss Ian Rowe was forced to put some square pegs in the roundest of holes, with attacking midfielder Brad Lawley billeted into the centre-half position and experienced forward Nicky Campbell filling with enthusiasm in at full-back.
But it was Lawley who shone brightest – barely putting a foot wrong against higher league opposition – and played a vital role in the victory, earning himself man-of-the-match in the process.
In fairness, Spalding played much more like a higher league side in this game, dominating from the off.
They took the lead on 13 minutes, Mitch Griffiths capitalising on hesitation in the Khalsa ranks to lob James Pemberton, meaning Khalsa would have to come from behind in a fourth successive FA Cup game in order to keep their dream alive.
A couple of minutes later, the brilliant Josh Moreman, the goalscorer in the first game and causer of all sorts of havoc again in the second match, fired a shot just wide. Griffiths almost doubled the lead when another lob hit the post after Tom Waumsley had taken advantage of a mix-up between Pemberton and Tes Robinson.
Tim Jackson then came to the rescue when Moreman’s shot was cleared off the line after he had superbly rounded Pemberton.
But then the momentum turned in an instant, Ross Watson having little to complain about when sent off for scything down Marvin Nisbett in full flow.
Shortly afterwards it was Nisbett who put the finishing touch to an attack which bounced around the penalty area, giving new hope and buoyancy to Ian Rowe‘s side.
But the second half saw Spalding dig even deeper as, with ten men, they started to go through the gears. Moreman – yet again in the thick of the action and, alongside captain Adam Jackson the two players of absolute genuine quality in the Spalding side – outpaced Campbell down the left, cut in and fired a shot that defected wide for a corner.
Waumsley had a good chance to score with a header from the resulting corner and four minutes later Griffiths had another decent effort which went wide. Craig Bannister curled a shot just wide of the post on 71 minutes in search of his tenth FA Cup goal of the season during a rare break forward.
As the prospect of extra-time began to loom, Khalsa finally made their advantage pay off, Townsend’s header from Jackson’s free kick escaping the grasp of Michael Duggan and going in off the post. The goal knocked the fight out of the home side as Khalsa remained strong and disciplined at the back during the final stages of the game.
The final whistle was greeted with jubilation as the prospect of a major home tie, just one step away from the First Round of the FA Cup, began to dawn on everybody at the club.