FOOTBALL: Stamford lose to superior Hednesford Town
Having gone all season without losing in the three cup competitions Stamford AFC were competing in, on Saturday the Daniels were dumped out of their second cup in the space of a week.
Hednesford Town, who were the side to knock Stamford out of the FA Cup in the fourth qualifying round back in 2013, looked every bit a side who play a division above as they ran out 4-1 winners in the first qualifying round of Buildbase FA Trophy at the Zeeco Stadium.
That came just four days after losing the Lincs Senior Trophy final 3-2 to Lincoln United.
The Daniels got off to wonderful start on Saturday when Elliot Sandy gave the home side the lead after 19 minutes. Sandy started the move when he won the ball in midfield and played in Ryan Robbins who burst down the flank and crossed the ball low into the box for Sandy to tuck home from close range.
However Stamford had been given a warning of what was to come before the goal when Jon Challinor, who was the Daniels’ best performer on the day, had to clear the ball off his own line from a Danny Glover shot after just 10 minutes.
But the advantage was short lived, just three minutes to be exact, as Glover scored the first of his brace of goals, firing into the bottom corner from 10 yards out after a shot from Gurjit Singh was only half cleared by the home defence.
As the half wore on Hednesford’s strong passing game was stretching Stamford almost to breaking point with Cohen Bramall and Joel Logan enjoying success down the flanks, but their crosses were just failing to find the mark.
Both sides had chances to take the lead going into half time, Stamford keeper Sam Donkin saved a 25-yard drive from Simeon Maye and then Singh but a free kick just wide.
Robbin’s had a late chance to register for the Daniels but his shot was blocked and the sides went in level at 1-1.
Hednesford came out with intent after the break and Challinor had to clear the ball off the line for a second time, this time denying George Carline.
Donkin then used his considerable speed to beat Glover to a dangerous through-ball which saw the Pitmen get behind the home defence.
But eventually the dam burst as Hednesford’s pressure told, and Glover headed home in the 53rd minute for the lead.
Stamford manager Graham Drury threw on attacking duo Grant Ryan and John King but they couldn’t find the goal the home-side needed.
And they were given a sucker punch in the 67th minute and knock-out blow just three minutes later.
The first goal came from a quick throw from Jamie Matthews to Joel Logan, who crossed the ball into the box for Carline to finish.
Singh then scored a classy goal which saw Hednesford’s passing slice Stamford open allowing Singh to round Donkin and finish into an empty net.
Late in the day Jevani Brown, who had come on for the injured Sandy in the first half, had a deflected shot hit the inside of the post but that is as close as they got in the second half.
There is no time to rest for the Daniels who are back in action tonight (Monday) when they travel to Basford in the Evo-Stik NPL First Division South (7.45pm).
Then on Sunday Stamford make the trip north to play their historic FA Cup First Round proper game away at League Two Hartlepool United (2pm ko).
Mercury sports editor John Evely will be at both matches providing live match updates on Twitter. For all the latest follow him at @Mercury_JohnE
Stamford: Sam Donkin, Jon Challinor, Ollie Luto, Curtis Hartley, Chris Salt (Tom Batchelor), Kern Miller (C), Lee Beeson, Jordan Smith, Grant Ryan, Elliot Sandy (Jevani Brown), Ryan Robbins (John King). Subs unused: Ollie Brown-Hill, Keenen King.
Hednesford Town: Lloyd Ransome, Lewis Wright, Cohen Bramall, Simeon Maye, James Mutton, Joel Logan (Ashley Sammons), Tom Thorley (c), Danny Glover (Jamie Matthews), Gurjit Singh (Myles Phipps). Subs unused: Dan Crane, Michael Williams.