A dominant Daniels display got a crucial three-match spell for Stamford off to a flying start with a 4-1 home victory over Kidsgrove on Saturday,
Two penalties from Pearson Mwanyongo and strikes from Sam Hollis and Rob Morgan secured the victory which helped maintain Stamford’s unbeaten home league record.
Boss Graham Drury had pinpointed this match, Monday’s trip to league leaders Basford and next weekend’s away clash at Leek Town as a vital run of fixtures for his side’s Evo-Stik Division One South promotion aspirations.
And the Daniels manager was delighted with his side’s performance as they bounced back from last weekend’s FA Trophy defeat by Droylsden.
Drury said: “I asked for a response after we lost at home for the first time last week and I couldn’t have got a better one than that.
“We were very dominant and, if a few decisions had gone our way, then we could have had six or seven goals.
“We played a higher line and that allowed the midfield to get on the ball more.
“Sam Hollis set the tone up top with his commitment and work-rate. His atttitude has been tremendous and I was really pleased for him because he’s such a genuine lad.
“This run of three games will set our season. It will tell us where we are at. We need a good points return and this has got us off to a good start.”
Despite losing top goalscorer Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson to injury after just 10 minutes and being without sidelined centre-back Henry Eze, the Daniels were excellent value for their victory with a polished passing performance.
Drury added: “It’s a blow to lose your top goalscorer after 10 minutes, but Pearson and Sam have done a good job up there.
“They’ve stuck the ball away when they’ve needed to and Rob Morgan has scored a really important third goal for us.
“We’ve gone to sleep for their goal and then took our foot of the gas for the last 15 minutes but, apart from that, we’ve been dominant.
“I’m very happy. I was very chuffed with the performance and I’m one pleased manager.”
Stamford made a bright start with visiting goalkeeper Dave Parton making a good early save to deny Eliot Putman while Fortnam-Tomlinson had a goal ruled out after being adjudged to have fouled a Kidsgrove defender.
Fortnam-Tomlinson was forced off shortly after, but his replacement Mwanyongo made the most of his early introduction by robbing a defender but seeing his shot saved.
He then helped create Stamford’s 15th minute opener as his good run down the left and low cross was swept home by Hollis.
The Daniels then doubled their lead eight minutes later when Hollis was pushed over in the box and Mwanyongo stepped up to coolly convert the resultant spot kick.
A slick Stamford move then saw a back heel from Morgan release Jon Challinor who dragged his shot wide of the goal.
Dan Haystead safely gathered a low shot from Lee Pickerill, but the Daniels custodian was rarely called into action in the opening period.
However, the visitors halved the deficit just eight minutes into the second period when Kyle Diskin was allowed time and space to pick his spot with a low drive into the bottom corner.
Stamford hit back immediately though and had restored their two-goal advantage within two minutes when Hollis cleverly worked an opening to release Morgan who finished with aplomb.
The three points were secured just past the hour mark when marauding full-back Ben George was fouled by Rhys Thompson and Mwanyongo again confidently converted the resultant penalty.
Lee Cropper went close with a low shot for the visitors who were then awarded a penalty of their own when Joe Burgess fouled Pickerill.
However, Haystead produced a cracking save, diving low to his right to hold onto Anthony Malbon’s spot kick to ensure the afternoon ended on a high for Stamford.
The Daniels also handed a debut to midfielder Stefan Broccoli as a second half substitute.
The Peterborough-based youngster was released by Newcastle United in the summer and is now working his way back to full fitness after a spell out with injury.
Drury explained: “Stefan’s been to the last couple of training sessions. He’s got high-energy, he’s busy and he’s tidy on the ball.
“He’s played under Peter Beardsley at Newcastle so he’s learned the right way, but now we just need to see how he handles the ugly side of the game as well.”
Stamford: Haystead, George, Putman, Armstrong, Gordon, Morgan, Challinor (Broccoli), Duffy, Hollis (Clarke), Fortnam-Tomlinson (Mwanyongo), Burgess. Not used: Smith, Holzer (GK).
Kidsgrove: Parton, Thompson, Pickerill, Rhodes, Austin (Skelton), Davidson (Ashman), France, Sanders, Cropper, Malbon, Diskin (Higham). Not used: Graham.