When Stamford AFC play like they did on Saturday, you wonder why they ever struggle in the Evo-Stik NPL First Division South.
At the weekend the Daniels looked every bit the promotion chasing side that was excepted of them at the start of the season as they beat second in the table Newcastle Town 3-1 at the Zeeco Stadium.
Grant Ryan opened the scoring for Stamford in the first half, and even though Jordan Cole put the high-flying visitors level with 20 minutes left to play it was the home side who finished the stronger. Daniels manager Graham Drury’s two attacking substitutes Olly Brown-Hill and Jevani Brown both registering a goal to secure the three points.
Three strikers, three goals and now three games unbeaten for Stamford to see them climb up to 14th in the table, with plenty of games, unbelievably up to seven, in hand over the sides around them.
It was the visitors who had the first significant effort of the game with Lee Cropper attacking down the right flank, cutting in and firing a shot but Sam Donkin, back in the net after missing the midweek draw with Carlton Town through injury, made a comfortable saved. Stamford were moving the ball nicely, and before they struck their goal, some good interplay set up Jon Challinor for a strike but he fired over. Ryan was far more composed moments latter.
The ball was played in to Elliot Sandy who held it up before finding Jake Duffy, with the midfielder feeding the ball into the path of Ryan. The striker dummied to shoot which sold the defence and then had the simple task of tapping it into the net.
After going behind Newcastle came on strong while Stamford’s defence was disrupted by the lose of Chris Salt at centre back after he collided with Ollie Luto. That brought on Kern Miller, who was on the bench after suffering a broken nose in midweek.
Cropper and Christopher Baker both put efforts wide for the visitors and then the former had a golden chance to square the scores after Daniels goalkeeper Sam Donkin slipped as he went to gather a routine headed backpass. However fortune was smiling on Stamford and Cropper’s shots just went over the crossbar.
Newcastle kept coming, and despite a break out from John King, which saw him find the side netting with a shot, they were coming under pressure.
Baker even had the ball in the net from a free kick but the assistant referee waved him offside.
But it was Stamford who had the final chance of the half, when a long ball was headed into the path of Sandy, but the striker could only push his shot wide under pressure.
Stamford almost made a stunning start to the second half when Duffy left the woodwork rattling with what would have been a wonder goal, taking the ball down on his chest and then dispatching a shot.
Ryan then looked to be in on the keeper but defender Sam Coulson got back to push the ball out for a corner. Although Stamford should have scored from that as Miller was unmarked from the set piece but could only head over.
For all of Newcastle’s good play in the first half it was a bit of a shock to the system when the goal came. A long ball beat the defence and Cole raced onto it, scoring at the second attempt.
Newcastle were filled with a renewed confidence but Donkin was in no mood to get beaten again and pulled off a pair of outstanding stops in a man of the match performance, to keep his side in the game.
First he saved from Joseph Thomas who shot from the edge of the box after the ball was pulled back to him.
He then showed quick reactions to block a Daniel Cocks effort from close range.
In the 84th minute Olly Brown-Hill showed why he is a fan favourite at the Zeeco with a calm finish after going through one-on-one with the goalkeeper and then Brown made the result certain in the final minute with a low shot past Aaron Dillon.
The game ended in ugly scenes, with Cocks at the centre of the it, having also gone face to face with Drury and got involved in an argument with the fans during the course of the match.
The Daniels now face a tough trip to bogey side Lincoln United tomorrow night (Tuesday). The Whites have already beaten Stamford twice this season, including in the final of the Lincolnshire Senior Cup when the Daniels looked on track for victory.
Stamford AFC: Sam Donkin, Jon Challinor, Ollie Luto, Sam Hill, Chris Salt (Kern Miller) Delroy Gordon, Jamie McGhee, Jake Duffy, Grant Ryan, Elliot Sandy (Jevani Brown), John King (Olly Brown-Hill) SUBS: Lee Beeson and Taylor Rhiney.
Newcastle Town: Aaron Dillon, Niall Green, Thomas Fogg (Sam Bradbury) Luke Askey (Joseph Thomas) James Askey, Samuel Coulson, Christopher Baker (Kyle Diskin) Kyle Blake, Jordan Cole, Lee Cropper, Daniel Cocks. SUBS: Richard Smith and Jacob Lovett.
Referee: Mark Curwood