Stamford slump to a third straight defeat

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Stamford need to turn their form around quickly if they are to retain home advantage in the end-of-season play-offs.

Leek Town was never going to be an easy venue to return to winning ways after back-to-back defeats but the writing was on the wall after just half an hour on Tuesday evening when the Daniels lost 3-0.

Stamford were one down after only a minute in the corresponding fixture last season and it wasn’t much better this time. Although Stamford had more of the ball in the opening minutes, Leek went ahead after eight minutes.

A quick Leek move led to a cross from the right with two Leek players unmarked near the Stamford area. Dan Shelley took the ball and his shot swerved in all directions as it went past Matt Finlay.

Four minutes later Leek should have increased their lead when Peter Wright chased a huge clearance. Under pressure from Richard Jones, his shot was well wide from inside the box.

Stamford had Danny Brooks back from suspension, Ricky Miller playing in a more central striking role and Mitchell Rose at right back. But they were soon forced into fresh changes.

After a long stoppage for treatment, James Ozmen couldn’t continue and was replaced by Sean Wright with Rose switching to midfield.

Straight from the restart, a quick ball forward gave Miller a chance to run at defenders before pulling the ball back for Saunders but, inside the box, he spooned the ball way over the bar.

Miller then had a chance with another quick ball forward but his shot dipped too late and cleared the bar.

Stamford went further behind after 24 minutes after a great move from Leek.

The ball was passed quickly from player to player and the although finish may have had a stroke of luck - Wright’s close range shot seemed to take a deflection and loop over Finlay - it was a lesson in keeping possession while moving the ball forward quickly.

Two minutes later it was 3-0 and yet again Leek found acres of space on the left. This time it was left back Matt Bell who fired across Finlay.

Just after the half hour Ben Saunders won a long clearance from Batchelor and put the ball into the net but the referee judged he had fouled while battling for the ball with Ellis Storey.

Right on half time, Wayne Hatswell brought on Jordan Hempenstall for Dan Marshall.

Certainly something needed to be done. Leek had been sharper all round. They were usually first to the ball and rarely wasted it.

There was little positive action in the opening minutes of the second half but right on the hour a piledriver from Rose was only blocked by Chapman. There was a clear push on Saunders as he went for the loose ball but the referee waved play on.

A minute later Hall did well to keep the ball from going for a goal kick before crossing for Miller to snap in a shot. A defender did enough to get in a half block and then the ball was cleared.

Miller then turned provider for Hempenstall and his header looked to have beaten Chapman but the keeper took the pace out of the ball with a fingertip save and then picked up the loose ball.

With six minutes to go, a clash in the Leek box as Batchelor and a Leek defender went for the

same ball led to Batchelor limping away clearly in a lot of pain.

Following a long period of on pitch treatment, Batchelor had to be replaced by Jack McGovern.

The game then drifted to a conclusion with Leek happy to soak up any pressure from Stamford.

It is only a few games since Stamford had an almost impenetrable defence but in the last three games they have shipped nine goals with only one at the other end.

Stamford: Matt Finlay, Mitchell Rose, Dan Marshall (Jordan Hempenstall 45), Tom Batchelor

(Jack McGovern 84), Richard Jones, Sam Saunders, James Ozmen (Sean Wright 14), Ben

Saunders, Ricky Miller, Andy Hall. Subs not used: David Staff, John Swales.