STAMFORD missed a golden opportunity to cement their place in the end-of-season play-offs, losing to Carlton Town at the Premier Kitchens Arena on Saturday.
Nick Hall’s excellent left-footed strike half an hour into the game, was enough to seal the win for the visitors, who remain third in the table.
Ross Whalin saved a second half spot-kick from Ruben Wiggins-Thomas while at the other end the Daniels were restricted to setpieces for the majority of the game.
Stamford, who began well creating a handful of openings in the first five minutes but after weathering that early storm, Carlton increasingly controlled the game and while the Daniels backline performed well enough, Stamford created little going forward.
Manager Tommy Brookbanks was scathing of his midfield and forwards after the game, saying: “The flair players today, have just not done it. Our defence did well but the top six – perhaps with the exception of Brooks – were disappointing.
“We were just not at the races. They came and did not let us play, and we did not trouble them.”
Danny Brooks fired in a couple of powerful free kicks for Stamford but frontmen Bruno Holden and Scott Mooney were limited to feeding off scraps.
After Stamford’s early burst, Sammy McVicar, playing in place of Carlton’s top scorer Ian Brown, looked threatening and Wiggins-Thomas forced a fingertip save from Whalin from a free-kick before Hall hit the target from 25 yards, driving low to Whalin’s right.
Brookbanks made three changes early in the second half, bringing on Nick Ghislanzoni, Harry Deane and Matt Baxter but it made little difference.
“It was very frustrating,” said Brookbanks. “We are an entertaining side but we didn’t put on a show. We seemed frightened.”
The result, coupled with Sheffield’s draw at home to Loughborough, pushed the Daniels down to fifth in the Evo-Stik First Division South.
Local rivals Grantham Town, who lead the Evo-Stik First Division South did Stamford a favour on Tuesday evening by beating one of the Daniels’ play-off rivals, Leek Town, 3-1.
Stamford travel to Leek on Tuesday evening where the kick off will be at 7.45pm.
Before that Stamford host mid-table Belper Town at the Premier Kitchens Arena tomorrow with David Staff missing through injury and Jared Holmes still hoping to recover from flu. Kick off is at 3pm.
l STAMFORD played Anstey Nomads in a friendly on Tuesday evening, winning 3-1 with goals from Ghislanzoni and two from Harry Deane.
Stamford: Ross Whalin, Luke Garton (Matt Baxter), Joe Pheasant, Wayne Dik, Dean Whiley, David Staff, Nathan Watson, Danny Brooks, Bruno Holden, Scott Mooney (Harry Deane), Jared Holmes (Nick Ghislanzoni). Subs: Robbie Maddox, Mark Harvey.
M-o-M: Ross Whalin. Attendance: 288.
Match sponsor: Wright Building Services.