Delighted Daniels defeat leaders to break Basford’s unbeaten record
Stamford became the first side to defeat unbeaten league leaders Basford United after a 3-1 home success over the Evo-Stik League Division One South title favourites on Saturday.
Goals from Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson, Ben George and Liam Adams secured a memorable win for Graham Drury’s side against the table-toppers who had been undefeated in their previous 27 league games.
The visitors were forced to play for more than 80 minutes with 10 men following the dismissal of James Reid for a hand-ball offence that gave Stamford the penalty that set them on their way to victory.
Despite the division’s top scorer Liam Hearn halving the deficit after George had doubled the Daniels’ advantage, Adams sealed a stunning success in the fourth minute of injury-time to the delight of manager Drury.
He said: “I’m thrilled to have won the game, but I didn’t feel we controlled it well enough which was frustrating.
“They were aggrieved about the sending off, but I felt it was a true decision and they were desperate to keep that unbeaten record.
“They put us under a lot of pressure in the second half, but we stood tall, scrapped for everything and I always felt we could catch them on the counter-attack.
“They are a quality outfit who are too good for this league so the players in our changing room deserve a massive amount of credit for beating them.
“But it’s not about all beating Basford because we’ve got to look after ourselves now and make sure we do what’s needed to get into the play-offs.”
Delroy Gordon and Jake Duffy both returned to the Daniels’ starting line-up after missing last week’s stalemate at Sheffield with Adams and Jordan Smith moving to the bench.
Stamford got off to a dream start in a 10th minute incident that saw the Daniels take the lead and the visitors reduced to 10 men.
Basford failed to deal with Duffy’s corner and, as it dropped into the penalty box, it was turned goalwards by Henry Eze whose effort was blocked on the line by Reid.
Referee Kevin Saunby adjudged that the Basford midfielder had handled the ball and, after awarding Stamford a penalty, red-carded Reid.
Fortnam-Tomlinson stepped up to emphatically convert the spot kick and Stamford then set about making the most of their numerical advantage.
Eze headed another Duffy corner just wide before Fortnam-Tomlinson rifled a fierce shot narrowly over the crossbar.
Eliot Putman saw a cracking strike well held by Saul Deeney in the Basford goal as Stamford failed to find the second goal they needed in the opening period against a free-scoring visiting attack.
Basford came out firing on all cylinders after the break as they looked to make the most of having a strong wind in their favour.
They had the ball in the Stamford net after a bright start to the second period, but the effort was ruled out for a foul on Daniels goalkeeper Dan Haystead.
Deon Meikle smashed a shot wide when well-placed after another Basford corner had landed invitingly at his feet.
Haystead then had to be alert to palm a dipping header from Meikle over the bar before Gordon excelled to head a goalbound effort off the line.
Both sides made double substitutions in a bid to swing the contest in their favour and it was Stamford’s that proved more effective.
Adams saw a shot deflected over by Connor Bartle after a powerful run before the hosts doubled their lead after 80 minutes with both substitutes combining.
Smith made a strong surge down the right before teeing up Adams whose endeavour after seeing two shots blocked was rewarded by the follow-up from full-back George who smashed home his fifth goal of the season from close range.
Basford were not finished though and, having scored so many late goals recently, refused to throw in the towel.
After Meikle had fizzed another effort wide, they halved the deficit as Hearn showed his predatory goalscoring instincts with a clinical header past Haystead.
However, any doubts that the visitors might still manage to salvage their unbeaten record were dashed in injury time.
A long clearance saw Adams sprint clear and win the race with Deeney with a crucial connection that had enough momentum to beat the chasing defender and creep over the goalline to seal a super Stamford success which maintained their play-off place.
The celebrations that followed showed how much this victory meant to the players, management team and supporters.
They’ve now got to produce the goods again next Saturday away at Kidsgrove to ensure the possibility of more celebrations at the Zeeco Stadium come the end of the season.
Stamford: Haystead, George, Putman, Armstrong, Gordon, Eze, Morgan, Duffy, Ball (Smith), Fortnam-Tomlinson (Adams), Challinor (Brown-Hill). Not used: Hollis.
Basford: Deeney, Grayson (Wells), Bartle, Nash (Thornhill), Meikle, Roma, Bell-Toxtle, Fenton, Austin (Duffy), Hearn, Reid. Not used: Carr.