STAMFORD will have to find greater consistency if they are to mount a serious title challenge this season.
The Daniels lost 1-0 to Evo-Stik First Division South leaders Grantham on Boxing Day and were outplayed during the first half. And although they were stronger after the break, the two contrasting halves of Stamford’s game reflect their season.
Tommy Brookbanks’ side were brilliant in their 4-0 win against Lincoln United a week before Christmas but during a patchy end to the year have lost points with below par performances.
“Consistency will be crucial for whoever wins this league,” said Brookbanks.
“We had a great start to the season and now we have to follow that up. We have to start the new year up and running.
“We have tightened up the defence which was important. In the last two games we have only conceded one goal. But we have to get Bruno Holden scoring again. The injury he sustained at Brigg set him back but once he gets scoring we will be flying.”
After Saturday’s loss, when Ben Saunders’ first half strike was enough to secure all three points for the hosts, Brookbanks said: “It was scrappy. Perhaps the worst conditions we have played in all year. It suited them better and they took their chance.”
The Daniels face mid-table New Mills at the Premier Kitchens Arena on Monday and Brookbanks warned: “That will be a tough game.
“They will still have hopes of reaching the play-offs and will be a difficult nut to crack.”
After that, Stamford visit struggling Market Drayton before a make-or-break run of games against top sides Carlton, Sutton Coldfield, Hucknall, Leek and Sheffield home and away.
Brookbanks however is relishing the challenge, saying: “It’s really all to play for.
“Grantham have had a great run but all the teams are dropping points and we are still in there.”
At the end of an eventful year, Stamford chairman John Drewnicki said he was delighted to see the Daniels in a play-off spot.
He said: “I wish the fans a happy and healthy new year. It has been a traumatic year, losing our manager and searching for a new one, but before the season started we would have more than settled for a place in the promotion-chasing pack.
“Now I hope we continue to stay there and give the fans value for money. It would be great to see all of them out supporting us on Monday, helping to keep us among the leaders.”
n THE future of Jake Gibson remains unclear despite Brookbanks’ best efforts to resolve his status as a Stamford player once and for all. An approach has been made for Gibson from Worksop Town, now managed by former Stamford boss, Simon Clark.
Brookbanks wants to keep the talented young winger and said: “We have had a good chat and I told him that we want him to stay.”
n Turn to page 71 for a full report of Stamford’s Boxing Day match.