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HIGHLIGHTS: Stamford AFC beaten at Darlington

By John Evely

Action from Stamford AFC v Salford City. Photo: Geoff Atton EMN-161204-111947001
Action from Stamford AFC v Salford City. Photo: Geoff Atton EMN-161204-111947001

Stubborn Stamford were on track to cause a shock on Sunday when Sam Hill gave the relegation fighting side the lead away at top of the table Darlington 1883.

But the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League’s top performers this season fought back to win 2-1, scoring through Kevin Burgess just before the break and Adam Mitchell midway through the second half.

The two sides, at contrasting ends of the table with two games to go, had been meant to play on Saturday but a waterlogged pitch caused the game to be postponed and rearranged a day later at short notice.

Mathematically the Daniels still have a chance of avoiding the drop but the odds are forever getting longer.

Stamford remain in 22nd spot in the league, four points from safety. Meaning they need to win their remaining matches and hope the teams around them lose theirs.

Whitby Town are now the only catchable side - they sit in 20th position in the league four points better off with a game in hand.

A wildcard in the works is that between them and Stamford sit Hyde United with one point more than the Daniels, meaning if they win their remaining games they could ruin the Lincolnshire side’s escape chances.

Whitby play Barwell tomorrow when Stamford travel to Skelmersdale United, meaning who gets relegated could well be decided before the final day of the season.

If Whitby win, Stamford go down, if the Daniels lose they will go down.

On Sunday Stamford almost took the lead after just five minutes when Jake Duffy intercepted a poor back pass to the home keeper but Peter Jameson in the Quakers net came charging off his line to shut down the danger.

Graeme Armstrong narrowly put a header over the bar for Darlington shortly after while Duffy had another chance for Stamford to break the deadlock when he was played in from a quick throw-in but he could not keep his shot down.

However in the 26th minute Hill opened the scoring from a corner, charging in to somehow power a header through a jungle of bodies and spark wild celebrations amongst the visiting side.

Darlington were applying immense pressure now and Stamford were lucky to survive a penalty appeal.

Stamford were creaking at the back, Jon Challinor was close to heading the ball into his own net under pressure and then Thompson saw a 25 yard drive hit the post.

Paul Bastock has been brilliant for the Daniels this season but the veteran goalkeeper will not want to watch the replays of Darlington’s opening goal a minute before the break. The ball was pumped into the box from deep by Weldon and Bastock, under pressure from a Quakers attacker who body checked him hard, completely missed his attempted punch of the ball allowing Burgess to smash the ball home into an unguarded net.

The Stamford stopper made amends after the break with an excellent save from a Galbraith drive from 25 yards out.

Lee Gaskell was introduced by the hosts and he nearly made an instant impact, narrowly heading over with his first touch.

The Daniels had their chances to get something from the game. With 20 minutes to play Hartley raced from his own half to create a scoring chance but he pulled his shot agonisingly wide.

Two minutes later and Darlington were ahead, with Bastock not covering himself in glory once again. Hardy won a corner and Mitchell swung the ball into the box. Bastock looked to be in the perfect position to claim it but in a mix up with his own defender the ball somehow finished in the back of the next.

Darlington had a couple of chances to extend the lead but failed to do so and were almost made to pay for their missed chances when Josh Newman almost earned Stamford a point four minutes into injury time.

Somehow the striker headed over from three yards out after a mad goalmouth scramble in the Darlington box.

Stamford AFC: Bastock, Hare, Luto, Challinor, Batchelor, Hill, Beeson. Hartley, G Smith, Duffy, H Smith,

Subs: Downey, Wightwick, Newman, Rzonca.

Darlington 1883: Jameson, Hunter, Galbraith, Turnbull (sub Weldon 4), Burgess, Brown, Mitchell, Scott, Armstrong (sub Gaskell 65), Cartman (sub Hardy 60), Thompson

Subs: Gaskell, Provett, White

Attendance: 1,707


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