Defeated Daniels give leaders a real run for their money
The Daniels were left to rue the fine line between victory and defeat as they ran runaway Evo-Stik League Division One table-toppers Basford United close in a cracking contest on Monday night.
Despite falling behind to Liam Hearn’s 12th minute opener, the Daniels got back on level terms before the break through a classy Jon Challinor strike.
They then went close on several occasions to taking the lead which would have threatened to end Basford’s unbeaten start to the season.
However, a loss of possession in midfield with 13 minutes remaining saw James Reid win the ball and then rifle home a stunning strike as Basford stretched their unbeaten start to 17 league games much to the frustration of Stamford boss Graham Drury.
He said: “We have played well enough to have got something out of the game, but one mistake has then cost us.
“Their keeper has made a couple of great saves when it was 1-1 and those are the very fine margins between us getting three points or not.
“We have more than matched a side who are top of the table and I’m frustrated we haven’t taken our chances to beat them.
“I’m really gutted because that’s the fifth team we have played who have said afterwards we’re the best side they’ve come up against, but we have again come away without any points.
“We’ve shaded the better chances, we’ve had better possession and the majority of the game and should have taken something out of it.
“I couldn’t have asked for any more from the players and I’m always encouraged by what they give me.
“We’ve played well, everyone has given maximum effort with eight-out-of-ten performances so I’m disappointed to be going away without getting a result.”
With striker Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson sidelined with the injury sustained in Saturday’s win over Kidsgrove, Pearson Mwanyongo regained his place up front alongside Sam Hollis while Liam Adams was named on the bench after returning on loan until the end of the season from National League North side Boston United.
The hosts made the brighter start on their slick 3G surface and Kieran Wells hit the crossbar early on with a header while Ashley Grayson sent another effort just over.
Basford’s long throws were causing Stamford problems and the Daniels were unable to deal with a 12th minute delivery that saw former Grimsby Town striker Hearn hook home the opening goal at the back post.
Stamford responded well to going behind though and Ben George saw a low goalbound shot deflected wide after a period of Daniels pressure.
The equaliser came nine minutes before half-time when Eliot Putnam guided a header into the path of Challinor who steered home a superb first-time finish into the bottom corner.
Both sides created decent openings after the break, but it was the Daniels who shaded the more clear-cut chances.
Adams almost made an immediate impact when he replaced Mwanyongo only to see home goalkeeper Saul Deeney produce a superb finger-tip save to kept out his curling effort that looked destined for the bottom corner.
Deeney, who once kept a clean sheet in the FA Cup for Burton Albion against a Manchester United side that featured Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, then came to the fore again to deny the Daniels.
Substitute Jordan Smith robbed a home defender but, with just Deeney to beat, the Basford custodian was equal to the test and palmed away the Stamford skipper’s strike.
Basford were also a threat going forward though with ex-Daniel loanee Rob Duffy heading wide from close range when well placed at the back post.
Joe Burgess and Putman then both combined to produce a couple of decisive goalline blocks before the hosts grabbed the all-important winner with 13 minutes remaining.
Reid robbed Challinor in the centre of the park and then took a couple of strides forward before unleashing a sizzling strike from outside the box that flew into the top corner.
Reid then rattled the post with a low strike as Stamford were forced to push more men forward in search of an equaliser.
A couple of late raids on the home goal were repelled by the Basford back line though as Stamford fell narrowly short in their quest to become the first side to beat their Nottinghamshire hosts in the league this season.
Basford: Deeney, Grayson, Bartle, Nash, Meikle, Roma, Bell-Toxtle, Fenton, Wells, Hearn (R Duffy), Reid. Not used: Wakefield, Austin, Harrison, Brown.
Stamford: Haystead, George, Putman, Armstrong, Gordon, Challinor (Broccoli), Morgan, J Duffy, Hollis (Smith), Mwanyongo (Adams), Burgess. Not used: Clarke.