DANIELS boss Tommy Brookbanks will make it clear that he wants 100 percent from his players when Lincoln United visit for the final game of the year at the Premier Kitchens Arena tomorrow.
Stamford were briefly top of the Evo-Stik League First Division South in November but have struggled ever since reaching those dizzy heights and have picked up just one point in their last four games.
The latest reversal was a 3-0 defeat at Rainworth last Saturday and the Stamford boss was unimpressed.
Brookbanks said: “We have to start rolling our sleeves up. We were good in the first half but didn’t work nearly hard enough in the second; not against a side that is battling relegation.
“We have gone from near the bottom last season to fifth and teams are not coming to attack us any more. They are taking us seriously and setting up to stop us playing.
“We have to win the 50:50 balls and headers. You cannot concede 40 goals by this point of the season and still be at the top at the end unless you tighten up defensively.”
Tomorrow’s clash with Lincoln would be the perfect time to return to form, ahead of a difficult Boxing Day tie at in-form Grantham Town who beat another of the title favourites, Ilkeston last weekend.
“You have to treat every team with respect,” said Brookbanks keen to focus one game at a time.
“I have said all along the leadership will change and change all the way to the end of the season but I am looking to go up, and the crowd can help us to bounce back this week.”
New signings Wayne Duik and Alex Flett made their Stamford debuts against Rainworth after the game got the green light following two pitch inspections last weekend.
Neither side started quickly but Stamford had the better possession in the opening 15 minutes.
Nick Ghislanzoni should have done better after Bruno Holden had intercepted a poor back pass but the big striker’s shot was blocked by Rainworth keeper Joe McCormack.
Soon after, a superb turn by Nathan Watson took him past two defenders and gave him room to cross for Ghislanzoni but his header was too high.
Rainworth took the lead, against the run of play, after 28 minutes, with a well struck shot from Ant Lynam into the top corner.
Two minutes later Stamford were close to an equaliser when a shot from Jake Gibson struck a defender but, with McCormack stranded, the ball went past the post.
The half ended as with Stamford enjoying possession but not creating any real threat. Rainworth had created even less but led at the break.
Rainworth started the second half strongly and went further ahead after just two minutes. The Stamford defence failed to clear a long ball and Ben Spargo put the ball away.
With 55 minutes gone it looked as if Stamford would pull a goal back. Adam Hewitt delivered a great ball over the Rainworth defence. Watson, whose touch is usually so good, knocked the ball past the keeper but straight across the goal, forcing him to cross to Holden who fired over.
Rainworth were much the better side now, getting the ball forward quickly and denying Stamford time to settle.
Stamford made a triple substitution mid-way through the half to try to lift their game but Rainworth still created the better chances with Lynam crashing one shot off the Daniels bar.
Nathan Adams, briefly at Stamford last season, came on for Rainworth and was unlucky when a long range shot curled just past the top corner but eventually Rainworth’s pressure paid off.
The third goal came seven minutes from time when the Daniels defence failed to deal with another long clearance allowing Matt Glass to fire past Ziccardi.
Stamford: Mario Ziccardi, Joe Pheasant, Adam Hewitt, Wayne Duik, Miles Chamberlain, David Staff, Nathan Watson, Alex Flett (Andy Toyne 67), Bruno Holden (Kieren Watson 67), Nick Ghislanzoni, Jake Gibson (Harry Deane 67). Subs not used: Luke Garton, Stuart King.