DANIELS boss Graham Drury remains upbeat despite the first defeat of his reign – a semi-final knock-out to Boston United on Monday evening.
Stamford were more than a match against the Conference North side for much of the Lincolnshire Senior Shield tie and they could easily have snatched victory after Ricky Miller drew the Daniels level at 3-3 with four minutes remaining.
The difference between the sides ultimately was a single missed penalty in the shoot-out. Gary King blazed the Daniels’ second spot kick over the bar and Boston’s perfect five from five handed the Pilgrims their ticket to the final against Gainsborough.
“It was cup game and we wanted to win but there were a lot of positives,” said Drury after the match.
“I was a bit disappointed to concede three goals so quickly after the break and that rocked us a bit. We needed to keep our composure.
“A couple of times they were a little bit cleverer but our team shape was good and the way we competed showed great spirit.”
Stamford are clearly able to score goals and Drury added: “Even though we conceded three, a clean sheet is just round the corner.”
Prior to King’s spot kick, which cleared the crossbar and the fence to the school next door, Stamford had matched their Blue Square North opponents during much of the 90 minutes.
Stamford took an early lead when the impressive Andy Hall won and converted a fifth minute penalty and the home side doubled their lead on 35 minutes.
Greg Smith’s strike rounded off a clinically executed counter attack, triggered by a delightful Jack McGovern pass from just inside his own half to vice-captain King, who dinked the ball between the Boston centre backs for Smith to rifle home.
Between the two goals neither keeper had been greatly troubled but after the break the higher league visitors stepped up their game, with Marc Newsham scoring an 11-minute hat-trick.
His first was a far post header from a free kick, his second a close range finish, and his third a penalty awarded after Robbie Maddox brought down Mark Jones, the brother of Stamford skipper Richard.
Between the second and third strikes, Drury brought on David Staff and Ricky Miller, who rejoined the club last week, and the Daniels fought back strongly.
They looked the most threatening as the game drew to a close, deservedly drawing level when Miller turned home a loose ball at a corner in the 86th minute to force the penalty drama.
Newsham, Ian Ross, Ben Milnes, Mark Jones and Kern Miller all scored for Boston.
Andy Hall, Ricky Miller and new striker Jordan Smith all scored for Stamford.
Stamford: James Martin, Robbie Maddox (Aaron Davies), Paul Mayo, Tom Batchelor, Richard Jones (c), Danny Brooks (David Staff), Andy Hall, Jack McGovern, Greg Smith (Ricky Miller), Jordan Smith, Gary King. Subs not used: Jack Cotton, Jake Walton.
Boston United: Dan Haystead, Conor Marshall, Gareth Jellyman, Ben Milnes, Nathan Stainfield, Ben Fairclough (Jordan Nuttell), Ian Ross, Mark Jones, Mark Jones, Marc Newsham, Joe French (Jamie Reed). Subs not used: Tom Ward, Travis Munn, Rick Drury.