As a warm-up to Saturday’s big game against FC United, Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to an impressive Carlton Town was a disappointment.
The Daniels were second best for much of the night and although they came close to snatching a second equaliser late in the game, a draw would have been harsh on the visitors at Kettering Road.
Carlton, who were unbeaten in four going into last night’s game, showed their intentions early on with Adam Kimberley driving an early 20-yarder narrowly over the bar.
Goalkeeper Martin Kearney’s long kicks caused Stamford problems and Carlton’s runners frequently seemed quicker to the ball, and in the 22nd minute Luke Smithson punished poor Stamford defending to put Carlton ahead. The Carlton wide man was unmarked in the area to pounce on Robbie Maddox’s poor header and buried the ball low past Matt Finlay.
Just minutes later Ruben Wiggins-Thomas could have made it two for the visitors. Stamford cleared their lines on this occasion but they were under mounting pressure.
Sam MacVicar, who had scored two against Romulus on Saturday, was a growing threat while Nick Hall and Adam Kimberley were effective in midfield.
When the Daniels did get possession, Gary King and Sam Mullarkey were given little time to exploit space in dangerous areas and both strikers began to come deeper for the ball.
Wingers Andy Hall and Louis Hamilton became sucked in from the sidelines and it came as no surprise when Graham Drury changed tactics, bringing on a third striker and utilising Greg Smith’s strength up front.
The change of approach worked with Carlton’s defence forced onto the back foot and Stamford scrambled an 80th minute equaliser from a corner, headed back across the box by skipper Richard Jones for fellow centre back Michael Jacklin to force over the line.
But having done the hard part to draw level, Stamford were behind again just minutes later when Kimberley’s left foot strike from the edge of the box took a deflection off Jacklin and wrong-footed Finlay in the Daniels goal.
Stamford had the best of the final chances with Mullarkey denied by Kearney late on but the Daniels will have to be much sharper over 90 minutes to beat FC United of Manchester in the FA Trophy on Saturday.
Kick off at Kettering Road on Saturday is at 3pm.
Stamford: Matt Finlay, Robbie Maddox (David Staff), Paul Mayo, Michael Jacklin, Richard Jones, Danny Brooks (Joe French), Louis Hamilton (Greg Smith), Jack McGovern, Gary King, Sam Mullarkey, Andrew Hall. Subs: Tom Batchelor, Joe Hopewell.
Carlton Town: Martin Kearney, Robert Darkin, Daniel Flectehr, Matthew Varley, Nick Hall, Josh Thornton (Ryan Whitehurst), Adam Kimberley, Sam McVicar, Ruben Wiggins-Thomas, Luke Smithson. Subs: William Gordon, Mark Clarke.
Match sponsor: MB Electrical.
Last night’s results in the Evo-Stik League First Division: Chasetown 0-1 Market Drayton Town; Halesowen Town 2-2 Leek Town; Hucknall Town 2-3 Sutton Coldfield Town; Kidsgrove Athletic 0-1 Northwich Victoria; King’s Lynn Town 2-2 Gresley; Lincoln United 2-1 Coalville Town; Mickleover Sports 1-1 Loughborough Dynamo; Newcastle Town 1-2 Belper Town; Stamford 1-2 Carlton Town.