Early goal seals the points for Daniels

Stamford captain, Richard Jones.
Stamford captain, Richard Jones.

Stamford skipper Richard Jones scored the only goal of the game as the Daniels picked up three points on the road.

The Daniels returned to action after two weeks of postponements with a 1-0 win at Market Drayton Town where if they had been more ruthless up front they would have won by more.

New signing Ben Saunders started with the Stamford’s other new arrival, Jordan Hempenstall on the bench. Drayton were forced to play striker Martyn Davies in goal.

Saunders was involved in the first chance of the game, heading on a Michael Jacklin throw to Andy Hall but the winger, unmarked just outside the six yard area, mishit his shot. Danny Brooks did better when the ball was cleared to him but his quick snap shot hit the side netting with Davies beaten.

Stamford took the lead after 13 minutes. Saunders played a corner back to Hall and his deep cross was headed back from the far post by Tom Batchelor for Richard Jones to nod the ball home.

There was little quality play from either side in the first half and 35 minutes had passed before there was another chance - but what a chance it was for Market Drayton.

Stamford lost the ball which was played quickly to Rob Stevenson in lots of space on the left wing. He carried the ball forward and into the area before crossing for Craig Ryan but he managed to slice his shot well wide when unmarked in the six yard box.

Three minutes later Drayton wasted an even better chance when Neville Thompson had space and time but shot straight at Jones and then hit the rebound straight into the arms of Matt Finlay.

Stamford led by that one goal at the break but it had been a poor half with little constructive football from either side.

Playing down the slight slope, Stamford started the second half with much more drive and were soon close to increasing their lead.

A superb cross from Adam Hewitt was nodded on by Saunders just past Alec Denton but then only half cleared to Mitchell Rose. His fierce shot from 20 yards hit the bar.

Minutes later the bar came to the rescue again. First a shot from Denton was blocked, then the follow up from Saunders was blocked and finally Richard Jones saw his shot come back off the woodwork.

Stamford were on top and a deep cross from Hall found Saunders but he volleyed the ball wide.

On the hour a great period of play saw Drayton chasing shadows as Stamford kept possession but when Denton finally had a shot he was denied by a great save from Davies.

Hall then fed Denton with a lovely flick and Denton showed great strength to brush past two defenders but his shot rose just over the bar.

Jordan Hempenstall came on for his debut after 64 minutes and was soon close to increasing

Stamford’s lead. In the first couple of minutes he had tormented the Drayton defence before curling a shot from outside the box. It looked like it was going past Davies but he managed to get fingers to the ball. Saunders was charging in but Davies was alert to snatch up the loose ball.

It was still all Stamford and another 18 yard scramble in the Drayton area eventually ended when Tom Batchelor headed over.

With just over 10 minutes to go, a great cross from Brooks found Hall on his own. He took the ballaround Davies but with the goal gaping he smashed the ball into the side netting.

Encouraged by still being in the game, Drayton finished the game pushing forward and Stamford supporters - who had made the longest trip of the season - started to fear losing a goal and a thoroughly deserved win but the possession was wasted with only one shot and that straight at Finlay.

The game ended with the referee involved in three incidents. The first came when Finlay was running down the clock by waiting for an opponent to force him to pick up the ball in his area. As he finally picked up the loose ball he immediately complained to the referee that Drayton substitute Andy Cooke had spat at him pointing to the evidence on his shirt. With players from both sides pushing and shoving it took some time to regain control. The officials had not seen the incident and restarted with an uncontested drop ball for Finlay to pick up.

A minute later, Rhys Swetman fouled Gibson, only just on after replacing Hall, giving the referee an easy decision to show Swetman his second yellow card followed by the red.

With lots of stoppage time after the Finlay incident, the third incident for the referee astonished Stamford players and supporters when James Ozmen was brought down as he went round Danny Ting. Although it was in the centre circle, Ozmen would have been clear of any other defender as he carried on to the Drayton goal but Ting was shown only a yellow card.

There was one last chance for Stamford when Gibson unselfishly played the ball across the box for

Ozmen. Unmarked and with time to pick where to put the ball past Davies, he shot straight into the keepers arms.

Only stoic defending from Drayton combined with a little fortune and some wasteful Stamford finishing, kept the score at just the one early goal.

Stamford: Matt Finlay, Michael Jacklin, Adam Hewitt, Tom Batchelor, Richard Jones, Danny Brooks, James Ozmen, Mitchell Rose, Ben Saunders, Alec Denton (Jordan Hempenstall 64), Andy Hall (Jake Gibson 87). Subs not used: Jack McGovern, Dan Marshall, John Swales.

Market Drayton: Martyn Davies, Nick Porter, Danny Ting, Nick Porter, Rhys Swetman, Paul McMullen, Kyle Blake (Dorryll Proffitt 54), Matt Johnson, Sean Humphreys, Craig Ryan (Grant Goodhead 73), Neville Thompson (Andy Cooke 73), Rob Stevenson. Subs not used; Sean Jones, Ryan Connor.