This time last season, Stamford finished their campaign at the league champions and had to watch Mickelover Sports presented with the trophy. History repeated itself as they finished this season at Barwell. Despite the poor season for the Daniels, a surprisingly large number of supporters made the trip. Both Olivers missed the game with injury while Ben Sedgemore was on paternity duty after his wife delivered a daughter in the early hours. Dan Cotton and Harry Deane were the front two.
Stamford started brightly but the first chance went to Barwell after five minutes when a poor clearance went straight to Francino Francis. He shot straight at Chris Wright who needed two attempts to hold the ball as it bounced awkwardly off the hard surface. Three minutes later it looked as if Stamford would take the lead after a good run by Dan Cotton. His first shot was blocked and his second was deflected over the keeper and looked to be going under the bar but instead went just over.
Cotton flicked on a Seth Burkett cross to Jake Walton but his shot from outside the box was straight at Barwell keeper Liam Castle. Stamford were on top and Castle got finger tips to a cross from Harry Deane. The ball fell at the feet of Burkett but he delayed his shot and was closed down.
Just after the half hour, and against the balance of play, Barwell took the lead and again it was a Stamford error which led to the goal. Luke Barlone intercepted an under hit Stamford pass, took the ball forward and round Wright and slotted the ball home. Two minutes later it should have been 2-0 when another long ball went to Jamie Towers, a feature of Barwell’s game at Stamford as well as here, but with just Chris Wright to beat his shot cleared the bar.
Stamford continued to press forward and a Cotton free kick was cleared only to Walton and his first time shot deflected for a corner. 1-0 at half time did not reflect the balance of play but Barwell had looked dangerous with quick breaks and Stamford had not been threatening enough from their possession.
Stamford continued to press forward and Castle had to be sharp to save at the foot of the post from Deane. Another good move saw a shot from Adam Millson blocked for a corner. The ball came to Liam Parker but the ball would not come down for him to get a shot in and was half cleared and then hoofed straight up field. There was a large appeal for offside from the Stamford defence but no flag. Wright got finger tips to the ball as Scott Hadland headed goalwards but the ball, having first looked as if it might clear the bar, dropped just under and it was 2-0.
Stamford kept taking the game to Barwell and a good run by Deane ended with him cutting the ball back to Matt Cook. He hit the ball first time but the ball smashed against the Barwell post and rebounded out. An over hit cross from Walton almost caught out Castle but he managed to hold the ball at full stretch. At the other end, Wright had to tip a completely miss hit cross from Nigel Julien over the bar.
Max Avory replaced Walton for his first team debut. His first touch was a strong run and shot which took a wicked bounce but Castle managed to hold onto the ball.
Barwell were happy to hold onto the ball but a rare shot was blocked and the loose ball fell kindly for Hadland. With just Wright to beat his shot was high and wide. Another great move from Stamford, involving 15 or so passes, ended with a cross from the bye line by Nick Jackson. It looked as if Castle would claim the ball but Deane nipped in only for his shot to come back off the post.
With a minute left a defender blocked a Liam Parker shot from a Cotton corner with his arm. Cotton sent Castle the wrong way with his spot kick. Stamford pressed hard for the equaliser and another good exchange of passes set up Matt Cook with a Millson pass but his shot was always rising over the bar.
In the end Stamford had lost again but had matched their opponents who minutes later received the league championship trophy. Supporters are pleased the season has ended but will need to see a huge improvement when the next season starts on 13th August.
Stamford: Chris Wright, Matt Cook, Nick Jackson, Andy Toyne (Stuart King 70), Miles Chamberlain, Liam Parker, Jake Walton (Max Avory 79), Adam Millson, Seth Burkett, Harry Deane, Dan Cotton. Subs not used: Matt Evans, Simon Clark, Simon Ashton.
MOM: Dan Cotton
Barwell: Liam Castle, Richard Letts, Adam Wykes, Guy Sanders, Francino Francis, Nigel Julien, Jamie Towers, Jai Stanley (Scott Hadland 48), Luke Barlone (Scott Lower 46), Scott Rickard (Kevin Charley), Craig Dutton,. Subs not used: Chris Hollist, Lewis Dodd.