Phil Watt’s header 11 minutes from time ensured Lincoln United finished the 2017-18 season with a win over Lincolnshire rivals Spalding United at Ashby Avenue.

In conditions that left more like late November than late April, the pouring rain made football difficult for both sides on a wet afternoon.

The Whites had the better of the game, but had to wait until Watt popped up in the 79th minute to score the only goal of the game.

Lincoln United’s win over Spalding United was their 11th in their final 14 games of the season

In truth, Lincoln were in control from early on in the game and extended their impressive recent form into the final day.

Spalding’s front three of Marcel Chipamaunga, Cenk Acar and Luke White were lively early on but couldn’t fashion any chances, and the Tulips were indebted to ‘keeper Michael Duggan for a number of impressive stops to keep them level.

He was first called upon ten minutes in. Matt Cotton, voted as the Whites’ Supporters’ Player of the Season, went through on goal but Duggan raced out quickly to deny him. From the follow up, Paul Grimes’ powerful strike was tipped over from point blank range.

Duggan was beaten five minutes later when Grimes beat him to a ball over the top and rounded the Spalding number one, but found the angle too tight and could only hit the side netting.

The conditions weren’t making things easy for the players on their final competitive outing until August, but Lincoln continued to have the better of the play. On 18 minutes, Cotton’s strike from range bounced awkwardly in front of Duggan who could only fumble wide. From the resulting corner, Sean Wright rose highest but saw his header cleared off the line.

Former Whites midfielder Danny Brooks scuffed wide in Spalding’s first effort on goal, but on the half hour it was Lincoln goalkeeper Mike Emery’s turn to be called into action – a fingertip stop denied Chipamaunga’s left footed volley.

After that, real chances were few and far between for the rest of the first half and while Lincoln had more of the play, they were restricted to efforts from range as Scott Matthews, Steve Ridley and Jack Wightwick all unsuccessfully tried from outside the box.

After a goalless first half, it was the visitors who closest first after the break – and Brooks was inches away from marking his return to Ashby Avenue with a goal. Lincoln knew not to give Brooks free kicks, but even they couldn’t have foreseen him trying his luck from fully 40 yards with a sweetly struck effort which crashed off the bar with Emery rooted to the spot.

As it was, fortune shone on Lincoln and they quickly resumed their control as Cotton dragged narrowly wide from the left channel.

Shortly afterwards, Duggan was on hand again to deny Grimes, before Rob Norris’ follow up was blocked.

As the Whites still knocked at the door, Duggan’s best save of the match came with 12 minutes to play. Cotton’s shot from range took a big deflection and looked destined for the bottom corner until Duggan stuck out a left hand to tip it wide.

But he was finally beaten from the resulting corner, as Grimes’ set piece was perfectly delivered for Watt to rise highest and power a header home.

Lincoln were comfortable after that and Emery wasn’t called into anything other than routine work, as Lincoln safely held out for their 11th win of the final 14 games. If the Whites can keep this squad together, optimism will rightly be high heading into next season.