FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Fringe players to feature as Stamford AFC go for cup glory
If Stamford AFC are going to win their first piece of silverware this season, tonight (Tuesday), they are going to do it with some of their fringe players at the fore.
The Daniels take on Lincoln United in the final of the Lincolnshire Senior Shield (7.45pm ko) at their home ground, the Zeeco Stadium, but in manager Graham Drury’s mind it’s a game his side could do without right now.
Drury said he would have preferred the game had been postponed, something the opposition were willing to do, but the Lincs FA insisted it go ahead.
The Daniels already have a massive fixture congestion building up thanks to their best ever run in the FA Cup which has seen them reach the First Round proper of the competition for the first time in their history.
On Saturday Stamford play Hednesford Town in the First Round Qualifying of the FA Trophy, with £2,700 on the line for the winners. Then just two days later (Monday) they travel to Basford United in the Evo-Stik NPL First Division South, to try and catch up one of the six games in hand they have over some sides in the league.
Then of course the Daniels play League Two Hartlepool United on Sunday, November 6, in the FA Cup - a game Drury quite rightly labels “the biggest game in the club’s history.”
Drury said: “I don’t want to exhaust my players.
“We are going to rotate our squad and the Lincs FA have said we can play anyone who is registered to the club but we want to go out there and win it.”
“We have got a lot of walking wounded at the moment and I am not going to risk any of them.”
In fact the entire spine of Drury’s first choice team in recent weeks is out.
Standout goalkeeper Sam Donkin is being rested and reserve keeper Taylor McMillan is also nursing a back injury. Drury said: “We might end up playing Lee Beeson in goal this evening!” Beeson of course is more accustomed to playing down the flank in defence or midfield.
Centre backs Chris Salt and Delroy Gordon both have back injuries which need protecting, central midfielders Sam Hill (cut knee) and Jake Duffy (back) are both being nursed and striker Ryan Robbins is struggling.
Striker Grant Ryan, who has scored two goals in two games since joining the club, is cup tied.
Drury said striker Keenan King, a product of the Leicester City Academy, will get a first start for the club as will Stuart Meldrew.
Despite the changes he is going to have to make Drury said: “We will still be strong and we will respect the competition by going out there and trying to win it.”
He said Ollie Luto, Ollie Brown-Hill John King, Jordan Smith, Curtis Hartley and Elliot Sandy will feature and gain valuable game time having featured off the bench in recent weeks or been banned in the case of Smith.
Drury said: “It will be good to have a look at these boys.”
There is also the small matter of the fact that if Stamford win tonight they will ten matches unbeaten which is some streak.
Tickets for tonight’s game cost £5 (adults), £3 (concessions) and £1 (children) and will be available on the gate as normal.
Mercury sports editor John Evely will be there - to get all the latest from the game follow his live Tweets @Mercury_JohnE