KARL Gibbs’ stunning first-half goal was the highlight of St Ives Town’s 1-1 draw with fellow promotion challengers Spalding United on a boggy pitch at Westwood Road last night.

The St Ives striker hit his 30-yard volley with tremendous force and the ball sailed over the top of the visiting goalkeeper Lee Drury for a 1-0 lead - but the Lincolnshire club, who were the United Counties League Premier Division pre-season favourites, rallied in the second half and took control of a game that was partially obscured by fog.

The shared points means the gap between the second-placed Saints and the third-placed Tulips remains six. But, after St Ives big match against leaders Holbeach United was postponed on Saturday, the chance of a St Ives' title is now a little slimmer today.

"We are still six points ahead of them which at the end of the day is the most important thing," said joint manager Jez Hall, who struggled to hide his disappointment with the result.

"If you don't win a game like this, the most important thing is not to let them win it.

"We have a good run of games coming up where we should pick up maximum points to put more pressure on both Spalding and Holbeach."

Defender Will Fordham and midfielder Jimmy Dean had both been doubtful for the game against Holbeach but started against Spalding.

Fordham lasted the full 90 minutes but Dean, and Stuart Cobb, both had to leave the pitch injured, while substitute Aaron Last pulled a muscle during his half-time warm up.

Hall said: "We didn't have the option of bringing Aaron on which left us a bit light unfortunately - but they all did what they could and we are still six points ahead."

It was a feisty affair on a pitch that resembled a beach in parts, and a ploughed field in others. There were early chances for both sides before Gibbs' wonder goal.

New striker Dom Lawless had been a thorn in the Spalding defence's side in the first-half, but he and his team-mates had it tougher in the second period with Spalding looking the better side.

The equaliser came with 15 minutes to go with Dan Cotton cutting inside from the left to beat the injured Cobb and beat Nick Bennion in the St Ives' goal with a curling shot which sneaked inside the far post.

The same player had earlier taken the ball around Bennion but with the goal at his mercy had taken to much time over his shot and wasted a glorious chance with the Saints goalkeeper getting back into position to stop the shot.

Bennion made another two good saves to keep it at 1-1 as the fog clouded the pitch before the final whistle.

On Saturday, St Ives travel to Quorn.