Daniels aim for strong start to Shield defence

Stamford new boys, from left, Gary King, Aiden Brady, Jake Gibson, Chris Gray, Danny Brooks, Danny Steadman, Michael Jacklin, Sam Mullarkey
Stamford new boys, from left, Gary King, Aiden Brady, Jake Gibson, Chris Gray, Danny Brooks, Danny Steadman, Michael Jacklin, Sam Mullarkey
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STAMFORD’S season begins tomorrow with the defence of their Lincolnshire Senior Shield title at home to EvoStick First Division South rivals Brigg Town.

The Brigg tie comes in the middle of The Daniels’ pre-season matches, which began this week with a 3-0 win at Louth and 2-2 draw at home to Boston United.

Daniels boss Simon Clark said the cup tie wasn’t at an ideal time as new arrivals gel with last year’s players but he added it would provide a good test ahead of a difficult start to the season.

Stamford face Kidsgrove Athletic, Carlton Town and Sutton Coldfield in the opening weeks of the season – who all challenged for promotion last year.

“It’s a difficult start for us,” said the Daniels boss, whose side ended a disappointing 2011 campaign 19th.

“Sutton Coldfield were in the play-offs last season. It’s a bit like a Premier League side playing Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in their opening games.

“But we will be fit and have all our players available at the start of the season. The pitches should be in good condition and that will suit us.”

Having seen his side come from behind twice on Tuesday evening against higher league opposition, Clark added: “We are looking sharp and athletic, and I have been very pleased with the new boys.

“They have settled very well. Chris Gray especially; I have been delighted with him. He’s a natural leader and is experienced at this level.”

Clark hopes Gray’s qualities will rub off on one or two of the younger players who had a tendancy towards hot-headedness last season.

“We had too many sendings off last season,” said Clark who travelled to watch tomorrow’s opponents Brigg lose to 4-1 Lincoln City on Wednesday evening.

“It gives you ideas,” he said. “We would like to retain the cup. It would be nice to win. We want to get the fans behind us after a difficult year.

“We put in a good performance against Boston and created two excellent goals. I was not so pleased that we were sloppy when we conceded but it was a good work out for us.

“When we made our substitutions we finished strongly which shows we have strength in depth and competition for places all over the pitch.”

Tomorrow’s match against Brigg kicks off at 3pm. Stamford then host Blackstones in a pre-season friendly in Tuesday evening with a 7.45pm start.