Stamford won their first game of the season against Kidsgrove on Saturday at the Premier Kitchens’ Arena.
Stamford started the game brightly and had already had a couple of chances by the time that took the lead after only eight minutes; Daniel Barrett launched a 40-yard diagonal pass straight to Danny Steadman’s feet. Steadman whipped a cross over that saw Gregg Smith challenging goalkeeper Steve Hodgson who spilled the ball at Smith’s feet and the big striker managed to sweep the ball home from a sitting position.
Kidsgrove drew level against the run of play on 14 minutes. Stamford lost the ball deep in the Kidsgrove half and Dan Smith played the ball through three home defenders to Ross Davidson who ran unchallenged from the edge of the centre circle to coolly slide the ball past the out rushing Ziccardi.
Stamford then had a let off a few minutes later when a flick from Andy Kinsey to a suspiciously offside Elliot Ledwards saw the forward shoot wide from a good position.
The lead was retaken on 33 minutes when a Cotton corner was too tempting for Hodgson but the goalkeeper completely missed it which left Sam Mullarkey a free header at the far post.
Injury time in the first half saw Steadman react first to the loose ball about 25 yards out and his first time shot was tipped over by Hodgson for a corner.
The second half started with an early yellow card for Danny Steadman but was quiet until the 71st minute when Chris Gray played Sam Mullarkey in on the right wing and the striker cut into the area and found his fellow strike partner Gregg Smith who swept the ball through the keeper’s legs for his second of the game.
Just 90 seconds later, Kidsgrove pulled one back with a huge stroke of luck in the build up, the ball was played into the area where a header clear from Chris Gray cannoned of a fellow defender straight to an unmarked Sam Hall who couldn’t believe his luck in firing past Ziccardi who had no chance.
Stamford had a couple of good shouts for penalties during the second half, the first for Smith being wrestled to the ground by a defender and the second for a trip on Mullarkey both ignored by the referee much to the astonishment of players and fans alike.
The Daniels finished the stronger with Lands’ free kick being flicked on by Smith to Mullarkey, his initial shot was well saved and his follow up put round the post for a corner, and Land had a header from a Brooks corner well saved by Hodgson.
A rare attack from Kidsgrove late on saw Ziccardi down smartly to save a Davidson header in the final few minutes to keep ensure an opening day win for Stamford.
MOM chosen by match sponsor John Drewniki was Danny Steadman.
Team; Mario Ziccardi; Mathew Cook; Danny Barrett; Chris Gray (C); Michael Jacklin; Thomas Land; Danny Steadman (Andy Toyne 82); Robbie Maddox; Gregg Smith; Sam Mullarkey (Dean Oliver 90+1); Danny Cotton (Danny Brooks). Subs: 12. Seth Burkett; Stuart King; 15. Andy Toyne; Danny Brooks; Dean Oliver