FOOTBALL: Impressive Stamford AFC put nine goals past Northampton Town XI
The phrase men against boys comes to mind. Stamford AFC thrashed a young Northampton Town Academy side 9-1 on Wednesday night at the Zeeco Stadium.
However it could just be a sign of how far the Daniels have come in the last 12 months, as last season the game against the League One club’s academy was one of the most competitive of the pre-season schedule, finishing 2-1 in Stamford’s favour.
Whereas this season there was swagger and urgency in the home side’s play at their attacking talents on display caught the eye.
It was a night of doubles, first man of the match Jev Brown scored twice, before attacking midfielder Elliot Sandy, and strikers Ryan Robbins and Greg Smith both followed suit. Paul Malone got the other goal.
Brown was simply superb in everything he did and was far too good for this Northampton side, who ominously turned up on a little mini-bus more accustomed to a school side.
Brown looks like he could be the key creative presence at number 10 in this side, always looking for a pass to a man in a better position - although they didn’t always comes off, a fine finisher and great dribbler of the ball.
However he is going to have some competition to get a regular spot up front as Stamford now have at least five good attacking options thanks to some good recruitment and man management during the offseason by the club.
The Daniels made the better start and pumped a free kick long into the box which towering Elliott Sandy was able to attack, just missing the target.
The home side didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal. The ball was won high up the field and Brown’s first instinct was to turn and drive at goal which he did with consummate skill beating a couple of young defenders before curling the ball to the right of the keeper.
Brown then came close to turning provider, playing in Sandy on the overlap but he was just pushed wider than he would have liked and shot into the side netting with the goal unguarded having rounded the keeper.
Brown was looking lively and he was in the right spot to put the ball in the net for a second time after Sandy had a shot blocked and then threw himself into a tackle to win the ball back and Brown was on hand to finish again.
Stamford continued to pill on the pressure and had a couple of decent penalty shouts waved away, perhaps in a way they only are in a friendly. Both Robbins and Jordan Smith hit the deck after contact and on another day may have found themselves on the 12 yard line.
But the Daniels didn’t need the referee’s help on Wednesday. They were dominating and scored their third of the night from a corner set-piece. Brown delivered a sumptuous ball to the back post and Malone headed home with ease.
Elliott Sandy - who looks a real find for Stamford - then scored a brace. The first came after Ryan Robbins crossed to the back post for Jordan Lemon, up from right back, to hit the ball back across goal for Sandy to power home.
Brown was heavily influential in the fifth goal as well. Stamford were playing a high pressing game and winning the ball back time after time high up the pitch. One such win set Brown up to drive at the defence again. He could have shot but with Sandy in a better position he fed the attacking midfielder who chipped the ball over the advancing keeper to make it 5-0 at the break.
There was still time for Robbins to have a shot well blocked off the line with a good sliding effort from the defender.
The first half of second half as far as Stamford was concerned was all about Robbins. He got off the mark for the season and then added a second moments later. The second, Stamford’s seventh was classic Robbins, haring down the right flank he cut in and blasted the ball into the far side netting of the goal. It screamed confidence.
However Stamford lost some shape after that and conceded a goal to the diminutive Brandon Williams who finished a nice break from the Cobblers academy and he really should have scored a second moments later but pushed his weak shot across the face of the goal.
Greg Smith, off the bench, put away Stamford’s third. Andy Hall drove a free kick into the box and Sandy flicked the ball on with his head into the path of Smith who directed it past the keeper.
Smith saved the best to last. Holding off a defender he brought the ball down and hit it delicately on the half volley, chipping the goal keeper and making it 9-1.
It was a fine effort and a reminder of what skill Smith possesses. The striker really looks up for this season, racing around the park to win the ball back when Stamford are in defence.
He is currently banned for competitive fixtures like the Lincolnshire Senior Cup, so will miss the Spalding United game on August 6, and the first game of the new season against Witton Albion.
Robbins looked to be limping fairly heavily in the closing stages but that was the only negative point on an otherwise confidence building night.
Stamford AFC: Taylor McMillan, Jordan Lemon, Ollie Luto, Paul Malone (c), Delroy Gordon, Sam Hill, Jordan Smith, Elliot Sandy, Jev Brown, Ryan Robbins.
Substitutes: Curtis Hartley, Tom Cooney, Tom Batchelor, Jon Challinor, Andy Hall, Greg Smith, Sam Mulready, Bradley Wells.
Northampton Town Academy: James Goff, Josh McCammon, Jamie Hall, Shawn Whaler, Jarvis Wilson, Pru Anaele, James Gillard, Seth Patrick, Lewis Irwin, Shama Bako, Ben Toseland.
Substitutes: Vaughn Marett, Brandon Williams, James Hammond, Adam North, Joe Iaciofano