It was a winning start to the 2015/16 season for Stamford AFC last night (Tuesday) with a comfortable 7-0 win over town rivals Blackstones.
There have been a lot of changes at Blackstones during the off-season including a new manager, Phil Gadsby formerly of PDFL Premier Division side Langtoft United coming in, and his appointment has led to him bringing in a raft of new faces.
In contrast Stamford are looking relatively the same as last season, hopefully bringing some consistency to their play. And on the evidence of Tuesday night’s action at Lincoln Road the new additions they have brought in have something to add.
Blacktones have been in pre-season training for more than a month and they started well, looking organised and playing at a ferocious pace. The hosts forced returning Daniels keeper Richard Knight into a double save in the first minute of the match after Jon Challior was robbed of possession in the midfield.
For the first quarter of the match Stones defended well and the Daniels were looking a little rusty, over hitting balls and trying to work the ball too intricately. Attacking midfielder Dan Clements, who looks to be a key man for the Stamford this season, was at the centre of all their attacking play in the opening stages but was struggling to deliver the killer final ball.
The breakthrough came in the 26th minute when new signing David Bell burst down the right wing and delivered a ball for Challinor to attack, which he duly did, heading home for 1-0.
Another attack down the right brought a stonewall penalty for Clements, whose quick feet where too fast for the Stones defence. Bell did the honours, putting the ball past the keeper tinto the bottom right corner.
Another new boy, Andy Hall, set up the third goal with another good cross from the right - this time allowing Greg Smith to power the ball home with his head.
Hall wasn’t done for the half however and scored the pick of the evening’s goals with a 25-yard thunderbolt into the top corner. Blackstones gave the midfielder too much space on that occasion but they soon got a little too close for comfort, up-ending a couple of Daniels’ midfielders in challenges a little rough for a pre-season friendly, but probably reflecting their frustration at the scoreline.
Last season Stamford were undone by some silly errors at the back and they showed the same frailties at times in their first pre-season game, although they can be forgiven for a little bit of rustiness. However there could be no excuse of players at the back not knowing each other as Stamford manager David Staff started with four of his regular starters from last season in defence: Lewis Carr, Nathan Fox, Tom Bachelor and skipper Richard Jones.
Despite that Blackstone’s were close to getting on the scoreboard when they got behind the defence during a rare foray into the Daniels’ half but saw the ball strike the post.
At the start of the second half Dalton Bettles, Andy Jepson, Jordan Neal, Jordan Smith, and Delroy Gordon came off the bench, with Ryan Robbins coming into the fray later on.
And it was Robbins who opened the scoring after the break. Having recovered from an Achilles injury which saw him miss St Kitts and Nevis’ World Cup qualifier, he scored twice in the final 10 minutes of play on Tuesday.
The first saw him beat the keeper with a nice shimmy and the second came virtually on the final whistle from the penalty spot after a trip in the box.
Between those two efforts Clements got on the score sheet after nice inter-play between Robbins and Jordan Smith.
Stamford (1st half)
Richard Knight; Lewis Carr, Nathan Fox, Tom Bachelor; Richard Jones; Jon Challinor, Dan Clements, TRIALIST, Greg Smith, Andy Hall, David Bell
Stamford (2nd half)
Richard Knight, Cameron Powell, Dalton Bettles, Andy Jepson, Tom Batchelor, Jordan Neal, Jordan Smith, Greg Smith (Ryan Robbins), Delroy Gordon, Dan Clements