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Stamford AFC visit Ilkeston Town in the Northern Premier League Midlands Division

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Stamford manager Graham Drury is hoping a bumper crowd for Saturday's clash with table-topping Ilkeston will spur his side on as they look to cut the gap on the Northern Premier League Midlands Division leaders.

The Robins are offering free admission to both sets of supporters for the crunch clash at the New Manor Ground on Saturday.

With Ilkeston already one of the best supported clubs in the division, the Daniels boss is relishing the clash as his side aim to reduce the seven-point deficit on their table-topping hosts.

Stamford lost 3-1 at home to Ilkeston in their first game of the season.
Stamford lost 3-1 at home to Ilkeston in their first game of the season.

He said: "These are the games that you should be looking forward to and wanting to play in.

"We know that their support will make some racket and noise but that should spur us on because it's always good playing in front of big crowds.

"Hopefully the free entry means we get a few more Stamford fans going over as well because they can put the admission fee into the fuel tank.

"We will go there and play our football and hopefully come out on top but, if they're a better team on the day and deserve to beat us, then I'll be shaking Martin Carruthers' (Ilkeston manager) hand and saying well done."

Stamford go into the clash having missed the chance to make the most of Ilkeston falling to a 4-2 away defeat at Sporting Khalsa last weekend.

The Daniels were held to a 2-2 draw at home by bottom-of-the-table Soham Town Rangers and dropped out of the play-off places in midweek following Coleshill's 1-1 draw at Daventry.

Mike Armstrong is suspended for Saturday's match. (53768171)
Mike Armstrong is suspended for Saturday's match. (53768171)

And manager Drury is looking for a response from his side as they also seek to avenge a 3-1 home defeat by Ilkeston on the opening day of the season.

He added: "It's a tough task on Saturday because Ilkeston have signed some quality players. They have recruited well and are top of the league for a reason.

"I think the first game of the season could have gone either way though. We had a great chance to make it 1-1 and would then probably have gone on to win the game.

"We didn't take it and ended up pushing and got caught twice to lose it.

"Ilkeston can perhaps afford a draw on Saturday so will their mind-set be about not losing to us because we want to go there and win a game of football like we always do.

"The outcome on Saturday won't define the season, but results like the games against Histon and Soham could because we haven't put them to bed.

"They have cost us because, if you put those four points onto our total, then we're in a good position to be challenging Ilkeston.

"We have to go and try to win the game and it will be about the desire of the boys to want to put the wrongs right.

"They have done it time and time again and hopefully we can go there on Saturday and be up for the challenge.

Joe Burgess (53768180)
Joe Burgess (53768180)

"We will need to get used to their new 4G pitch, but we won't be looking for excuses. We will be going there to give it our best shot.

"We will have to win the battle first and then hopefully have the quality to put the ball into the back of the net and keep it out the other end which is the be all and end all of it."

Stamford will be without Mike Armstrong following his sending off at the weekend but Cameron Johnson will return to the squad along with Joe Burgess who played his first game of the season following a knee injury on loan at Deeping Rangers on Saturday.

He has been recalled from his short spell at the United Counties League Premier Division North club following Armstrong's dismissal on Saturday.

Drury explained: "I have had to pull Joe back in with Mikey out. It is unfortunate for Deeping because I did say that he would play a couple of games for them.

"It's needs must though because I didn't foresee Mikey's sending off. I will apologise to Daniel French (Deeping manager) for that but we have to look after our own house first."

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