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Stamford AFC will host Yaxley in the Northern Premier League Midlands Division

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Manager Graham Drury wants his Stamford side to fine-tune their performances as they look to turn draws into victories over the festive period.

The Daniels are currently on an 11-match unbeaten run in the Northern Premier League Midlands Division.

However, five of those games have ended in draws which have seen sixth-placed Stamford slip out of the play-off spots.

Graham Drury. Photo: Rob O'Brien (53894886)
Graham Drury. Photo: Rob O'Brien (53894886)

After the 2-2 stalemate with struggling Soham a fortnight ago, Stamford produced a superb display in Saturday's match at league leaders Ilkeston.

But they were forced to settle for a goalless draw despite a dominant performance due to the heroics of Robins goalkeeper Ross Durrant.

Durrant made a string of excellent saves, including a first half penalty stop, and Daniels boss Drury is looking for his charges to find some consistency ahead of Monday's home match with Yaxley at the Zeeco Stadium.

He said: "You don't have to be the best side to win league titles, you just have to be consistent throughout the season and churn out performances.

"We have got to now go into the new year and do that because, although we've had five draws and six wins in the last 11 games, we might as well have lost a couple and won a couple as we would have more points on the board.

"I was scratching my head after the game at Ilkeston about how we can put in such a determined and fluent performance this week after not doing it the Saturday before.

"It's something that we know we must rectify in the new year if we want to be challenging at the top.

"We know the fine margins that we have to close by making sure that we are just that little bit tighter and organised.

"We have to fine-tune those little bits if we want to do it and continue doing what we've been doing for the last 11 games to turn those draws into victories."

Stamford and Ilkeston shared the spoils in a goalless draw on Saturday. Photo: Lewis Soames (53890955)
Stamford and Ilkeston shared the spoils in a goalless draw on Saturday. Photo: Lewis Soames (53890955)

Monday's visitors Yaxley arrive on the back of a three-match winning run that has moved them up to 14th place in the table.

The match will pit Daniels first team coach Luke Hipwell against his former club while Stamford striker Michael Frew also enjoyed a prolific spell with the Cuckoos.

Drury added: "They are matching us in the form guide and have had three victories on the trot.

"They are showing that they're very competitive in this division so it will be a really tough ask and there are connections between the clubs which means there will be a bit of bite about it."

Former Yaxley player Joe Butterworth won't be facing his former club though after departing the Daniels this week to join Bedford Town.

Butterworth enjoyed a prolific loan spell with the Eagles and has decided to make the switch permanent in search of regular game-time.

Joe Butterworth. Photo: Rob O'Brien (53894884)
Joe Butterworth. Photo: Rob O'Brien (53894884)

Drury explained: "Joe unfortunately missed a game and, in that time, we've been unbeaten and he wouldn't want me to drop him if he was in an unbeaten side.

"He said to me that he wasn't naive and, with the players we've got in there, he couldn't see where he was going to play.

"He was going to find his game-time limited and, unless there was injuries or a bad run of form, I had to be honest with him.

"I totally understand and appreciate it because he is equally as good as anyone in the squad. He's a great lad and I wish all him the best because it's a great opportunity for him.

"Joe just wants to play and the competition is strong in our squad and, in the area he plays, it's the most strength we've got.

"I've got to be fair to the lads if they're playing well and we're not losing games of football."

Stacey Freeman and Mike Armstrong - who missed the game at Ilkeston on Saturday - will both return to the Stamford squad for Monday's match.

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