Daniels urged to take charge of their own play-off destiny

Stamford celebrate their fourth goal against Market Drayton.
Stamford celebrate their fourth goal against Market Drayton.
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Daniels boss Graham Drury is urging his side to plot their own play-off destiny ahead of a feast of festive fixtures.

Stamford moved into the top five of the Evo-Stik League Division One South standings with a 4-0 home success over Market Drayton on Saturday.

It means the Daniels are now in the play-off places for the first time this season ahead of a run of four games in nine days.

They face a tricky trip to Carlton Town on Saturday before successive home games against play-off rivals Corby Town (Boxing Day) and Stocksbridge Park Steels (December 30). The busy festive period is then ended with a New Year’s Day derby duel at Peterborough Sports.

And, with their play-off fate in their own hands for the first time this season, Drury wants his charges to make the most of the opportunity.

He said: “If we can get positive results in the next four games then we could be sitting in a really good position, but it could also go the other way as well.

“It’s the first time this season that it’s been in our own hands and we’ve got to make sure we grab the opportunity and not let it slip.

“The lads believe in what they’re doing and we’ve got the right blend. We’re defending from the front and defending solidly at the back which is a good recipe to have.

“The signs are positive and we have got a very positive group. We’re going into games thinking about how we can beat sides rather than worrying about them.”

Drury believes Saturday’s trip to Carlton (3pm) will provide a tough test for his side who edged a close contest 1-0 in the clash at the Zeeco Stadium earlier in the season.

Despite being in 16th place in the league, the Millers have only conceded 23 goals in their 17 league games this season.

Drury said: “They’re a big, ugly side who are very direct and like to launch long throw-ins to the back stick.

“It’s not the best of pitches so we’ve got to go there and play the conditions and make sure we dictate the game. They will play to their strengths and it will be a tough game.

“Wayne Scott (Carlton manager) has done a fantastic job to keep them competitive every season and we’ve just got to go there and get the job done – no matter what it takes.

“Last year we were a big, strong and direct side and it wasn’t very enjoyable so I’ve tried to find the right blend.

“We can get it down and play in the right areas, but we’re also up for a scrap if needed and can dig in to get the job done like we did at Chasetown.”

Saturday’s match is followed by an intriguing Boxing Day clash with Corby Town which kicks off at the Zeeco Stadium at the earlier time of 1pm.

Drury is a former manager of the Steelmen and enjoyed a successful spell at Rockingham Road after joining Corby from the Daniels.

He said: “Personally I’d love both clubs to get promoted because I’ve got so many fond memories of my time there.

“But I’m a true red now and I want to turn over the black and whites. Steve Kinniburgh (Corby manager) has done a fantastic job there, but I know quite a lot about them and, if we play to our potential, then hopefully we can get a result.”

Corby have won 10 of their 13 league games since Kinniburgh took charge and include ex-Daniels Paul Malone and Sam Mulready in their ranks.

Stamford, who have won three games on the bounce without conceding a goal, welcome back Eliot Putnam and Jon Challinor who missed Saturday’s win. Joe Burgess is back in light training after picking up a thigh injury in the League Cup defeat at Coalville.