Kidsgrove Athletic 3 Stamford 2
A THREADBARE Daniels were victims of a late smash-and-grab goal after coming back from two down at Kidsgrove on Saturday.
Injuries, illness, a suspension and work all hit the Stamford squad but they still played their best football for several weeks, and left disappointed, coming away with nothing from a game they totally dominated.
Stamford started playing down the slope and with a very strong wind at their backs were soon on top.
The Daniels abandoned the long ball tactic of recent games and played good, controlled football.
A great move ended with a shot from a lively Bruno Holden which just cleared the bar. And Holden and Brooks combined well to set up Nick Ghislanzoni but his shot shaved the wrong side of the post.
The game was midway through the half before Kidsgrove came close to threatening the Daniels goal, when Luke Garton had to be sharp to cut out a cross, clearing over the Stamford bar.
At the other end Adam Hewitt played a good ball to Holden who despite being held back got a shot in but straight at Steve Hodgson in the Kidsgrove goal.
Completely against the run of play, Kidsgrove took the lead after 30 minutes. Danny Smith crossed for top scorer Dave Walker to turn the ball in off the inside of the post.
Stamford continued to run Kidsgrove ragged with the Daniels frustrated by the referee who allowed play to continue after a foul on Nathan Watson but then blew for the free kick once Holden had got past the Kidsgrove defence with just Hodgson to beat. Brooks took the free kick which crashed back off the bar.
With the half coming to an end, another shot from Holden brought a superb full length save from Hodgson and then another hit the post. Deep in stoppage time, Kidsgrove won a corner, Andy Kinsey headed onto the bar and Stamford failed to clear the ball, which was turned in by a suspiciously offside Walker with the last kick of the half.
Kidsgrove had scored two from three chances, Stamford had nothing from a hatful and the second half followed a similar pattern.
Stamford were still on top but nothing went their way. Holden’s shot was hit Jonathan Crompton, wrong-footing Hodgson, but went just the wrong side of the post.
A minute later Holden headed on a Brooks corner but Crompton cleared off the line.
Finally Stamford found a way back when centre back Andy Taylor, who had been robust with several tackles, was penalised for a foul on Brooks 25 yards out. David Staff put the ball into the corner of the net with Hodgson wrong-footed, guessing the ball would go the other way.
Like in the first half, Kidsgrove rarely threatened but Walker wasted a superb chance for his hat-trick shooting over from six yards.
Stamford brought on Kieran Watson and Scott Mooney, and Watson beat two defenders before forcing a fine save from Hodgson.
Hodgson denied Stamford again, diving full length to turn away a Brooks free kick and from another Stamford corner Taylor cleared Mooney’s header off the line.
Finally, after 79 minutes, Stamford got the equaliser when Pheasant headed home a Mooney cross.
Stamford kept on pressing but Kidsgrove defended well, puttig bodies in the way or hoofed the ball away and as the game moved into injury time, disaster struck.
Nathan Watson lost the ball and it was played forward quickly. A shot from substitute Danny Griggs took just enough deflection off a Stamford head to steer the ball over Whalin and into the net.
Kidsgrove had three points from a game in which they had been clearly second best but they had scored three from scarcely more chances, Stamford only two from a multitude and left feeling they had missed out on three points that they deserved from a game they had totally dominated.
Stamford: Ross Whalin, Luke Garton, Adam Hewitt, Wayne Diuk, Joe Pheasant, David Staff, Nathan Watson, Harry Deane (Kieran Watson), Bruno Holden, Nick Ghislanzoni (Scott Mooney 66), Danny Brooks. Subs not used: Ian Wheat, Mark Harvey
Man-of-match: David Staff