Belper 2 Stamford 3
STAMFORD won 3-2 at Belper on Saturday to maintain their challenge for the top spot in the Evo-Stik First Division South.
The Daniels remain three points behind leaders Ilkeston, who also won on Saturday, but have two games in hand and Stamford boss Tommy Brookbanks was delighted with his side’s performance at the weekend.
Brookbanks said: “It was a great away win. You have to go to these tough places and come away with results if you are serious about challenging for promotion or a play-off place
“We are maintaining our position near the top during these weeks of transition at the club and that can only be a good thing.
“If we can get to Christmas in the top four we can then concentrate on having a real go in the second half of the season.”
Andy Toyne led the way with Stamford’s early opener and Bruno Holden doubled the Daniels’ lead with a second goal in as many matches since arriving from Brigg.
Belper halved the arrears early in the second half but Toyne fired a third Daniels goal after a Joe Pheasant header had crashed back off the bar.
The hosts struck again late on to ensure a nervy finish to an exciting 90 minutes with plenty of controversy along the way..
Stamford took the lead after only three minutes after Nathan Watson’s mazy run resulted in a corner which Toyne headed home.
Belper’s first chance came from a poor pass by Danny Barrett allowing Lee Whittington a chance to take the ball into the Stamford box but a superbly timed tackle by Miles Chamberlain took the ball away. A minute later Mario Ziccardi came out for a long ball but didn’t make it giving Jon Froggatt an open goal but he shot straight at Joe Pheasant.
Bruno Holden did well to first hold the ball and then turn and play the ball into the box for Nick Ghislanzoni but the keeper was brave to dive at his feet and hold onto the ball. And that was all in the first 20 minutes.
It was 2-0 on 21 minutes when Barrett’s cross from the left was misheaded by Michael Simpkins to Holden. He took the ball into the box, and under pressure from a defender, managed to squeeze the ball past the keeper and into the far corner.
Two minutes later it should have been 3-0 but Nick Ghislanzoni missed another great cross from Barrett when all it needed was a tap in.
The first controversial incident came on the half hour when Ben Leonard appeared to elbow Dan Steadman with the ball nowhere near. Both officials were following play and missed the incident saving Leonard from a certain red card.
While Steadman was being treated Barrett limped over for attention and was replaced by Jake Gibson. Stamford are now awaiting the findings of an x-ray on Barratt.
And it wasn’t long before the next moment of controversy. This time one which went in Stamford’s favour. Toyne was floored when the ball hit him full in the face but by the time the referee had seen Toyne prostrate and stopped play, Belper’s Whittington about to shoot.
Belper came out for the second half with much more determination and it was against the run of play that Gibson had the first chance of the half. Richmond did well to get a hand to the ball and turn it past the Belper post.
Fifteen minutes into the half Hewitt conceded a free kick and Belper pulled one back. It was great delivery by Luke Federenko for Leonard, who was lucky still to be on the pitch, to head home.
Four minutes later and another controversial incident when Steadman and Damien Magee chased a ball over the Belper goal line. As they came back onto the pitch Magee clearly kicked Steadman. The assistant referee saw the incident but Magee received just a yellow card.
Stamford restored their two goal lead on 66 minutes when Chamberlain header was blocked but the ball came to Toyne who fired home.
A minute later and it should have been 3-2 when Ziccardi came for another long ball and missed giving Froggatt a free header. He had only to hit the target to score but he managed to head wide. Next minute a thumping shot crashed off the Stamford bar and then Ziccardi did well to save the follow up shot.
Belper lifted their game and put Stamford under almost continuous pressure. In a rare chance to get out of their half, it looked as if Toyne would get his hat-trick but a defender got a foot in to block the goal bound shot.
With eight minutes left, Froggatt turned and placed the shot wide of Ziccardi to make it 3-2 and set up a very nervy finish.
Belper had two good chances in stoppage time to equalise but first Chamberlain blocked a shot for a corner and then, from the corner, the ball was headed across goal and past the far post.
Stamford had been forced to hang on in the second half but deserved the points after dominating the first. It had been another cracking game between the two sides and who between them have scored 24 goals in four games this season.
After the match, Brookbansk had plenty of praise for man-of-the match and double goalscorer Toyne.
He said: “Andy is someone I really rate. He is an excellent player and it is nice to see him playing well and scoring goals.”
Latest recruit Kieran Watson made his Stamford debut as a second-half substitute but influential midfielder David Staff was missing due to a knee problem.
Stamford: Mario Ziccardi, Luke Garton, Adam Hewitt, Joe Pheasant, Miles Chamberlain, Danny Steadman (Harry Deane 75), Nathan Watson, Andy Toyne, Bruno Holden, Nick Ghislanzoni (Kieran Watson 71), Danny Barrett (Jake Gibson 30). Sub not used; Marcello Schiavone
STAMFORD travel to Loughborough to play in the third round of the Doodson Cup tomorrow. Kick off at Loughborough Dynamo is at 7:45pm.
On Saturday, Stamford are at home to Romulus in the league. Kick off is at 3pm.