FOOTBALL: Hill strikes late to send Stamford AFC through in the FA Cup
Sam Hill booked Stamford AFC’s place in the FA Cup third round qualifying with a goal in the 88th minute on Tuesday night.
It took the Daniels two attempts to finally beat Derbyshire side Gresley, after they drew 1-1 away from home on Saturday thanks to Jordan Smith conceding a penalty in injury time.
That set-up a replay at the Zeeco Stadium on Tuesday, and for all Stamford’s attacking endeavours throughout the evening the match looked to be heading to extra time. However late in the day Gresley finally folded, failing to clear a ball fully in defence allowing Hill to put the ball in the back of the net - but even then it was at the third attempt after the first two shots were blocked.
In truth Stamford deserved the victory having looked the better side in both fixtures with the club who they will meet twice again this season in the Evo-Stik NPL First Division South.
The third round match will be away at AFC Mansfield on Saturday, October 1, and the winning club will receive £7,500.
Mansfield play one step below Stamford in the Northern Counties East League, the equivalent of the UCL Premier Division.
Despite Daniel manager Graham Drury starting an unchanged side from the first leg it was the visitors who had the first chance of the match when Courtney Meade forced a save out of goalkeeper Paul Bastock, who could only push the powerful effort out to Tendi Chitzia, but shot wide.
But Stamford responded brightly, replying with a 25-yard drive from Jack Duffy which forced Gresley keeper Rob Peet into action.
If Stamford hadn’t progressed on Tuesday there would have been some serious questions asked as they failed to take a number of gilt-edge chances.
The first of which came after 20 minutes when Kern Miller got his head on a great delivery from a corner, and the ball looked to be heading into the net only for teammate Tom Batchelor to get another touch on the ball and send it over the bar. On the half hour mark Elliot Sandy should really have opened the scoring when he received a great cross, in space, with the goal in front of him, but he also put the ball over the bar.
Gresley’s Reece Morris reminded Stamford they were still in a fight when he cut in before dispatching a shot which struck the side netting.
Five minutes after the break the Daniels thought they had taken the lead when Sandy headed the ball in the back of the net but the effort was scrubbed off for offside.
Stamford were increasingly bombarding the Gresley goal with Peet saving from Hill before substitute Ollie Brown-Hill fired over.
The Daniels were given a brilliant opportunity to finally take the lead after 15 minutes of the second half when Brown-Hill was fouled in the box by Gresley’s Matt Roome. Jevani Brown stepped up to take the penalty, but agonisingly saw it saved by Peet who dived the right way.
Peet saved from Hill again, five minutes from time, but just moments later Stamford had the goal they craved, even if it was in a somewhat scrappy fashion.
Stamford must now turn their attention briefly back to the league, where they travel to Sheffield FC on Saturday and Bedworth United on Tuesday, in desperate need of some points to improve on their current position of 21st in the 22 team division. To make matters worse local rivals Spalding United sit top of the pile.
Stamford AFC: Paul Bastock, Delroy Gordon, Curtis Hartley, Sam Hill, Kern Miller, Tom Batchelor, Jevani Brown (Lee Beeson), Jake Duffy, Jordan Smith, Elliot Sandy (Ollie Brown-Hill), John King (Ryan Robbins). Subs unused: Ollie Luto, Sam Mulready and Taylor McMillan
Gresley: Rob Peet, Matthew Roome, Josh Eggington (Ryan Walker), Jordan Wakeling, Lucas Harrison, Jamie Barrett (Ben Harris), Pearson Mwanyongo, Reece Morris, Tendi Chitiza (Matthew Melbourne), Courtney Meade, Michael Pearson. Subs unused: Jake Carlisle, Toby Fura and Eddy Samba.