Clements heaves the Daniels out of the drop zone
Stamford rose from the dead on Easter Monday, blasting four first half goals - three from man of the match Dan Clements - to beat Grantham in the Evo-Stik League NPL derby to resurrect their chances of avoiding relegation.
Clements blasted three goals in a superb first half for the Daniels with Richard Jones also heading home to make it 4-0 at the break. Gregg Smith saw a weak penalty saved by the Grantham keeper Jake Turner at the start of the second-half and within minutes Grantham’s Linkuhle Ndlovu converted a penalty, but there were no further goals.
It was a first win in 11 league matches for Stamford, who added to that streak with a 2-0 loss at home to Ashton United on Saturday. The latest result moved them out of the relegation zone by one point into 20th position thanks to Frickley Athletic drawing 1-1 at Whitby Town.
However the Daniels (20th - 46 points) have played a game more than both Frickley (21st - 45 points) and Marine (22nd - 43 points) so they will need to pick up points in their final three games to stay out of trouble.
First up is Whitby Town at home on Saturday, followed by league leaders FC United of Manchester on the road, with Witton Albion at the Zeeco Stadium on the final day of the season.
On Monday Stamford manager David Staff was quickly rewarded for recalling Clements to the starting line-up alongside Michael Built at the expense of Jordan Smith and Dan Lawlor.
It took just seven minutes for the Daniels to open the scoring, with their first real attack of the game.
Courtney Meade attacked wide and delivered a good cross to Clements who beat Turner with a well-positioned effort.
The diminutive Clements caused the Gingerbreads problems again just two minutes later, this time winning a corner which skipper Jones converted with a looping header.
Stamford were three up after just 21 minutes. An innocuous looking long free kick was fumbled by Turner and it was that man Clements again who was first to the ball and calmly volleyed home with aplomb.
The visitors went close again when Nathan Fox’s 26th minute corner kick came off the bar, and the Gingerbreads were fortunate two minutes later when no Stamford player managed to get a touch to Jon Challinor’s squared ball.
Grantham’s chances were few and far between, with Rhys Lewis’s 32nd minute 25-yard effort sailing wide. He tried again a minute later from the same distance but, though on target, it was easy enough for Stamford stopper Andrew Stevens.
At the other end, Fox went for an even more ambitious 35-yard free kick that was not too far over the bar.
A minute from half time Clements claimed his hat-trick after he got on the end of a Challinor throw-in - an attacking weapon Stamford have used to good effect of late.
Grantham had the first shot of the second half but Ndlovu’s effort was easy enough for Stevens.
The Daniels had a great chance to make it five on 47 minutes when Clements was brought down in the box for a penalty. Ex-Gingerbread Greg Smith took the spot kick but was foiled by his former team-mate Turner, to the jeers and taunts of the East Stand terrace.
Three minutes later, the referee blew for another penalty, but this time at the other end, when Ndlovu was fouled in the area. He brushed himself down and made no mistake, slotting the ball to the diving Stevens’ right.
Liam Read had an opportunity to double Grantham’s goal tally but Stevens tipped his shot around the post.
There were fewer and fewer chances for either side as the second half wore on in an increasingly tetchy game, with Stamford’s players squabbling amongst themselves.
Smith hit the woodwork for the Daniels in the 76th minute and Grantham’s last chance to save some pride came in the 90th minute when a rare foray into the Stamford box saw Lewis shoot over the bar.
Stamford: Andy Stevens, Ryan Clarke, Nathan Fox, Tom McGowan, Richard Jones (c), Tom Batchelor, Dan Clements (Dan Lawlor), Jon Challinor, Greg Smith, Courtney Meade (Jordan Smith), Michael Built. Subs: Lewis Carr, Gareth Jellyman, Kurtis Revan.
Grantham Town: Turner, Purcicoe (c), Wholey (Rawdon, 50), Hollingsworth, Hellewell, Meadows, Read, Lewis, Emmott, Ndlovu, Hurst (Miveld, 56). Subs not used: Bilyk, Duffy, Saunders.
Man-of-the-Match: Dan Clements