Stamford 1 New Mills 1
THE goals will return, Daniels boss Tommy Brookbanks reassured fans after Saturday’s draw at home to mid-table New Mills.
Stamford drew 1-1 with the league’s early season leaders, levelling within minutes of the visitors’ seventh minute strike.
From that point on the hosts dominated the first game of the year at the Premier Kitchens Arena. But the Daniels failed to add to their tally and, while they remain in the final play-off spot, the gap between Stamford’s fifth place and top side Grantham is widening.
Brookbanks felt his side should have been awarded two penalties for handball, at least one of which would have led to a red card for the Mills player who appeared to handle the ball on the goal-line.
“We had two stonewall penalties turned down,” said the Stamford boss. “Sometimes you get that in football.
“But I’d be more concerned if we hadn’t been creating chances.
“It was a good performance but the forwards didn’t put the ball in the net.
“Had we got the second, I think we would have gone on to get three or four.”
Striker Bruno Holden, who began his Daniels career with a brilliant flurry of goals, has drawn a blank since he picked up a facial injury against his former side Brigg Town and Brookbanks admitted his side needs the hitman to find his goalscoring touch once more.
He said: “Bruno has gone through a sticky patch. We look a different side when he is on song but with strikers it comes in fits and starts. I am not unduly worried.”
Bank holiday opponents New Mills led the league in the early weeks but despite slipping down the table proved stubborn in defence on Monday.
Stamford started brightly with Nathan Watson looking to take on defenders but New Mills had the first genuine chance. The Stamford defence failed to clear the ball and it fell to Carlos Meakin whose shot was turned around the post by a stretching Ross Whalin for a corner.
With just seven minutes gone, Stamford again failed to clear the ball which ended up with Meakin again. This time he lobbed the ball over Whalin and into the far corner to put New Mills ahead.
Stamford responded well and were level four minutes later. Holden held up the ball before releasing Watson to beat two players and his low, hard cross was turned into his own net by Michael Bowles.
Stamford dominated the rest of the game but couldn’t convert possession into clear chances. Too often players tried to work an opening to shoot themselves rather than picking out a teammate in a better position and James Coates in the New Mills goal had little to do.
Coates palmed away a Holden header and a shot from Nick Ghislanzoni but he was never over troubled.
A superb ball from David Staff picked out Ghislanzoni who chipped the ball over the New Mills defence for Watson but his first touch let him down and the ball ran through to the New Mills keeper.
A quick break set up Gibson and his shot took a deflection with Stamford players convinced it was handball and a penalty.
The referee waved away the Stamford protests.
Whalin had been a spectator for most of the game but just after the hour a rare move forward by New Mills led to a scramble in the Stamford area. Fortunately Whalin stopped Ashley Stott’s goalbound shot with an outstretched foot.
Most of the play was in the New Mills half. Adam Hewitt’s first time shot from the edge of the box flew just inches over the bar and Kieran Watson, on as a substitute, placed his shot just the wrong side of the far post with his first touch of the ball.
In the last 15 minutes New Mills began to push forward themselves but, like Stamford, their final touch was poor and their breaks fizzled out.
They came closest in the final minute when Mark Innes’ shot from the edge of the Stamford area flew over the bar.
Stamford: Ross Whalin, Joe Pheasant, Adam Hewitt, Wayne Diuk, David Staff, Nahan Watson, Andy Toyne (Danny Brooks 70), Bruno Holden (Kieran Watson 65), Nick Ghislanzoni, Jake Gibson (Harry Deane 65). Subs not used: Luke Garton, Danny Barrett.
MoM: Joe Pheasant.
Match sponsor: CS Ellis.