Hamilton strikes late to earn Daniels a point
Stamford AFC couldn’t have left it much later to score an equaliser than they did on Saturday, earning a point with a goal from new signing Chris Hamilton in the 95th minute.
In truth the Daniels should never have been in need of the debutant’s late heroics as they dominated much of the 2-2 draw at home against Stourbridge, however missed chances and a saved Lee Beeson penalty meant they had to make do with just the single point.
Once again the league was hit by a host of postponements meaning some of Stamford’s relegation battling rivals did not play again, however there was mixed news about the sides which did.
Bottom-of-the-league Ramsbottom United (17 points) continued their up-turn in form with a 4-0 win away at Grantham Town which brings them to within three points of Stamford (20) who are now level on points with Colwyn Bay (20) and just one behind Whitby Bay (21).
Skelmersdale United (23), who sit just above the drop zone, were the only other bottom side in action and they were heavily beaten 4-0 by title-chasing Salford City.
Elliot Hodge, who was named player of the month before the match, was the outstanding player again for the Daniels on Saturday causing havoc down the flanks.
However it was the visitors to the Zeeco Stadium whostarted the better and things could have gone disastrously wrong when home goal keeper Enol Ordonez fouled Matt Dodd in just the second minute, however referee Sean Richardson showed some leniency and flashed just a yellow card instead of a red.
Stamford striker Jake Newman was close to converting a cross from Lee Beeson after 10 minutes but Stoubridge, who sit 11th in the table, came back and Ordonez had to make a pair of decent saves.
Stamford attacked again and went close through Hodge, whose long-range effort was just over the cross bar. But in the 26th minute Karl Hanley gave the visitors the lead when he finished a deflected cross from the dangerous Dodd, taking a touch before scoring.
The Daniels’ response was positive, Newman played in Jake Duffy who was denied by a fine save by Stoubridge stopper Charliev Price.
Stamford were getting closer and shortly before the break Duffy was a shade of paint away from levelling the scores but his header from an Ellis Myles cross crashed off the post and into the arms of the keeper.
There were still some defensive duties to be done before the break and Lee Beeson made a great tackle to shut down an excellent chance for the West Midland visitors.
Just minutes into the second half Stamford got the perfect start as Jordan Smith won a penalty after being brought down in the box by Kristian Green.
Beeson did the honours from the spot and hit the ball hard but it was far to close to Price who made the block to maintain the visitor’s narrow advantage.
Despite the missed chance the Daniels kept the pressure on so it came as a real body blow when Stourbridge went 2-0 up in the 61st minute. A deflected shot fell kindly for Christopher Lait who beat Ordonez at his near post with a volley.
However the hosts got back into the match moments later thanks to an own goal from Green who got it all wrong when he tried to clear a dangerous cross from Newman.
Both sides had chances to add to their tally before the end but the game looked to be petering out as the clock ticked into stoppage time. But substitute Greg Smith was full of running and he chased down a nothing ball to win a thrown-in. Jon Challinor used his long thrown to fire it in and Beeson played the ball to Hamilton to smash past Price and send the Stamford faithful into raptures.
A brief moment of praise must be given to the groundsmen and volunteers who turned up with pitchforks before kick-off to help make the wet ground playable on Saturday. The result of their efforts was a great game of football which keeps Stamford’s momentum in 2016 going.
The Daniels now host Buxton tomorrow night (Tuesday) in Integro Doodson League Cup, kick-off 7.45pm.
Stamford AFC: Enol Ordonez, Lee Beeson, Ellis Myles, Sam Hill (Greg Smith), Tom Batchelor, Brad Gascoigne, Jordan Smith (Jon Challinor), Tom McGowan, Jake Newman (Chris Hamilton), Jake Duffy and Elliott Hodge. SUBS unused: Curtis Hartley and Jack Wightwick.
Stourbridge: Charlie Price, Kristian Green, Daniel Scarr, Sean Geddes, Chris Knight, Stuart Pierpoint, Matt Dodd (Ben Billingham), Leon Broadhurst, Karl Hanley, Justin Richards (Tyree Clarke), Chris Lait. SUBS unused: Brian Smikle, Mark Wright and Sam Whittall.
Referee: Mr Sean Richards