Trophy tie will test Stamford’s progress

Delroy Gordon faces a late fitness test.
Delroy Gordon faces a late fitness test.
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Daniels boss Graham Drury believes Saturday’s intriguing FA Trophy tie with higher level Sutton Coldfield will give him the chance to gauge his side’s progress.

Stamford host a Royals side who are currently bottom of the Northern Premier Division in the first qualifying round tie.

Despite the Daniels seeing their eight-match unbeaten run ended at Frickley Athletic on Saturday, Stamford are still unbeaten at the Zeeco Stadium this season.

And Drury is determined to protect that record against a visiting side who have won just once in their nine away league games this season.

He said: “We have had a fantastic run recently and it’s important for us now to get back to winning ways.

“They are a level above and will be a hard nut to crack. It’s not going to be easy, but it will show where we are at and if the teams in the top half of our division can compete at the level above.

“It will be a good eye opener for us to pit our wits against a Premier Division side. They might be only one result from turning their season around and we’ve got to make sure it doesn’t happen against us.

“We didn’t have a run in the FA Cup this year so we’re looking at the FA Trophy and we want to be in the hat on Monday.

“Hopefully we can get another big crowd because the players and I appreciate the support. We want to stay unbeaten at home by beating a good side and getting ourselves into the next round.”

Stamford’s eight-match winning streak was broken at the weekend after a 2-0 away defeat at fellow Division One South promotion contenders Frickley Athletic.

Although aggrieved with the 12th minute penalty decision which handed Frickley an early initiative, Drury was disappointed with his side’s response.

He added: “I’m not making excuses, but I was disappointed with the decision for their penalty. It was very harsh.

“None of their players or management appealed for it – in fact no-one in the ground knew what it was given for.

“I don’t know where he’s got the decision from, but it’s changed the game. We were battling against the wind and it’s made us chase the game.

“We were a bit toothless though and didn’t really look like scoring. We should have passed the ball better in the final third.

“We were too direct and, although we tried to change things around, they defended really deep and we didn’t pass it enough to break them down.

“We were not effective and I was a bit disappointed with the group. Our big players didn’t have good games.

“We were not a million miles off Frickley though and we certainly won’t fear them or Cleethorpes when they come to the Zeeco Stadium.

“There was nothing there for me to think that they’re better than us and we’re certainly capable of beating them.

“We have played four of the top six away from home and I don’t fear any of them. Hopefully decisions will also turn in our favour come the end of the season.”

Sam Hill remains sidelined for Saturday’s tie while centre-back Delroy Gordon will be assessed after missing training this week with a dead leg.

Joe Burgess is now back fully fit though while Lee Clarke will be in the squad after gaining some match fitness with Blackstones.

Drury commented: “Having Joe back fit is like having a new player while I’m really looking forward to working with Lee.

“He’s a genuine, honest lad who will give us that tactical nous up front which will hopefully create opportunities for us. He’s an exciting signing.”