Defeat at Stourbridge leaves Stamdford AFC four games to save themselves
Stamford AFC’s chance of avoiding relegation from Evo-Stik NPL is on a knife edge.
The Daniels still sit in 21st position in the league after they lost 2-0 to play-off chasing Stourbridge on Monday night.
Stamford battled relentlessly for 90 minutes and thanks to their resolute defence and goalkeeper Paul Bastock were in the game up until the last three minutes of regular time when the hosts notched their second of the night.
In truth Stamford were battered in the first half but went in just a goal down. The problem was the struggling Daniels never really threaten the Glassboys’ goal.
Stamford, two points from safety but still having played more games than other around them at the bottom, have four games left to stay up.
And they are tough games. First up it’s ‘The Class of 92’s Salford City at home on Saturday, Darlington 18883 away on April 16 before a trip to Skelmersdale United on Tuesday, April 19.
That leaves just Mickleover Sports on the final day of the season at the Zeeco - with a potential repeat of last season’s heroics on the cards again.
On Monday Greg Smith hit a shot goalwards in the first minute of the match for Stamford but it was easily dealt with by goalkeeper Matthew Gould and in truth that was as good as it good for the Daniels.
Stamford stopper Bastock had a busy night, particularly before the break. The 45-year-old veteran of more than a 1,000 games pushed a shot from George Bowerman onto the crossbar.He then had to save at the feet of striker Karl Hawley.
With Stamford lacking any real possession in the opposition half they eventually cracked nine minutes from the break. It took something a bit special though. Chris Lait attacked down the left flank and cut in before curling the ball into the top corner.
Bastock had to save smartly to stop Hawley adding a second shortly after. Stourbridge created multiple other shooting chances but could not find the target with them.
Stamford manager Graham Drury threw caution to the wind and made a triple substitution at the start of the second half. He introduced Jack Wightwick, Callum Rzonca and Lee Beeson for Curtis Hartley, Greg Smith and Sam Hill.
It worked as well as the Daniels had more of the ball in an advanced position and a neat back heel by Wightwick gave Ollie Luto room to send in a cross for Jordan Smith to test Gould with a header.
Stourbridge were still creating chances but could not find a second goal to give themselves some breathing room. And they were almost made to pay when Jordan Smith went down in the box and turned to appeal to referee Grant Taylor for a penalty. Instead he got a yellow card for an adjudged dive. The linesman seemed to be flagging for a foul from the defender.
After another Bastock save Stamford’s first corner of the match was only just cleared to safety by Gould, with towering Tom Batchelor waiting to pounce.
Stamford survived a couple more scares before Ashley Vincent confirmed the result when he got on the end of a parried save from Bastock from a Justin Richards shot from distance.
Despite the set-back the Daniels attacked again and Beeson had a shot from a corner blocked in the closing moments.
Stourbridge: Matthew Gould, Kristian Green, Dan Scarr, Sean Geddes, Junior Smikle, Joe Hull, George Bowerman (Ashley Vincent), Leon Broadhurst, Karl Hawley, Justin Richards, Chris Lait (Tom Tonks).
Substitute unused: Sam Whittall and Drew Canavan
Stamford AFC: Paul Bastock, Curtis Hartley (Callum Rzonca), Ollie Luto, Jon Challinor, Tom Batchelor, Sam Hill (Lee Beeson), Sam Downey, Jake Duffy, Gregg Smith (Jack Wightwick), Jake Newman, Jordan Smith.
Substitute unused: Lewis Jackson
Referee: Mr Grant Taylor