Dramatic late strike earns Daniels’ a draw

Stamford AFC v Blyth Spartans. Photo: Geoff Atton EMN-140922-122945001
Stamford AFC v Blyth Spartans. Photo: Geoff Atton EMN-140922-122945001
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Ryan Clarke earned Stamford AFC a valuable point away at Halesowen Town on Saturday after he scored an unlikely equaliser in the 94th minute of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League tie.

After 85 minutes without a goal there were two in the closing moments of the match.

A late header by Halesowen’s Ben Haseley looked to have set them on their way to their first league victory at home this season but Clarke popped up to spoil the party and earn Stamford a point on the road after nearly two weeks without a game because of their opposition being involved in clashing cup ties.

Halesowen had the better of the first half exchanges and Daniels keeper Andy Stevens was tested early on.

First Stevens had to collect the ball under a lot of pressure from Iyseden Christie in the 10th minute, which he did well. But when called into action again Stevens lost Elliott Turner’s corner just moments later and Stamford’s defence had to be alert to block a Neil MacKenzie’s shot.

MacKenzie then threatened with a low free-kick which went just wide. The pressure continued to build and Christie headed wide in the 23rd minute.

Just before the break Halesowen had two headed efforts just wide of the mark to let the Daniels off the hook.

In the second half Stamford woke up and could have gone ahead when substitute Tom McGowan, on for skipper Richard Jones, missed the target when the ball fell to him in the opposition 18 yard box. Both sides had limited chances as time ticked away but with five minutes of regular play left Haseley looked to have won it for the hosts.

A cross which was nodded on by substitute Robert Thompson-Brown for Haseley to head past Stevens.

But that was when Stamford really came to life and Jordan Smith asked real questions of Halesowen keeper Matt Sargeant and the home defence. First the striker turned and shot low forcing Sargeant into action.

Then after Halesowen had gone on a late raid of their own Smith won a corner. With just seconds left to play Dan Lawlor delivered the ball in from the set piece and Clarke slammed the ball home through a packed penalty box.