Sutton Coldfield 3 Stamford 0
THE Daniels fell to a 3-0 defeat on the artificial pitch at Sutton Coldfield on Saturday. And while the scoreline might have flattered the home side, Stamford only had themselves to blame for two of the goals.
With Lee Beeson and Miles Chamberlain declared fit and starting, and Dean Oliver making his first start of the season, Stamford edged the first half but barely got into the second.
They fell behind four minutes before the break when former Spalding defender Ross Miller struck and the hosts doubled their lead just before the hour after a throw from Daniels keeper Mario Ziccardi had struck left-back Dan Barratt on the heel. Coldfield struck again in the final minute when a suspiciously offside-looking striker robbed Miles Chamberlain and finished past Ziccardi.
Both sides started slowly on Saturday and the first chance for either side didn’t come until midway through the first half when Sam Mullarkey did well to hold off a defender and delivered a great cross for Dan Cotton. His shot was well saved by Niall Cooper and the keeper pulled off another great save when Beeson fired in the loose ball.
Stamford now enjoyed the best of the play with a Cotton freekick headed onto the top of the Sutton bar by a defender.
But as the game went into the last ten minutes of the half Sutton still hadn’t tested Mario Ziccardi in the Daniels goal but with four minutes of the half remaining Stamford went behind when Matt Dodd was left with acres of space to cross to the near post where Ross Miller steered the ball home.
In a half with few chances, it was a defensive lapse which had allowed Sutton Coldfield their lead and they came out stronger after the break. Mark Bellingham got the better of Michael Jacklin before shooting from a tight angle and a minute later he had an even better chance but Ziccardi, who appeared to fall over adjusting his position, still managed to push the ball away for a corner.
Sutton wasted another chance when Dean Rathbone outjumped the Stamford defence to meet a deep free kick but headed wide of the post but they finally increased their lead when Ziccardi’s throw out hit Barrett and the ball dropped right in front of Criag Marshall who smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
Simon Clark made two substitutions to try and get back in the game with Gary King replacing Oliver and Jake Gibson replacing Cotton, and King soon had Stamford’s first chance of the half but his header from a long cross ball from Robbie Maddox was straight into the arms of Cooper.
With 15 minutes left Ziccardi made a tremendous one handed save to keep out the free kick from Rathbone but deep into stoppage time Sutton added their third.
Chamberlain tried to head the ball back to Ziccardi but, under pressure from substitute James Reid, didn’t get enough on the ball and Reid had the simple task of lobbing the ball over Ziccardi.
Stamford have leaked nine goals in their opening three matches of the season; a record that boss Simon Clark - a defender himself during his playing days - knows is nowhere near good enough.
Clark said: “Admittedly we have had a tough start with our opening three matches being against top-six sides from last season, but the amount and manner of goals we are conceding is a concern.
“You won’t win too many football matches while conceding an average of three goals per game and it is something we need to put right.”
Stamford: Mario Ziccardi, Robbie Maddox, Dan Barrett, Chris Gray, Miles Chamberlain, Michael Jacklin, Lee Beeson (Danny Steadman 77), Andy Toyne, Dean Oliver (Gary King 62), Sam Mullarkey, Dan Cotton (Jake Gibson 62). Subs not used: Danny Brooks, Greg Smith.