Lilley double sinks the Daniels at Sutton Coldfield
Another game, more dropped points, and another chance to close the gap on the teams in safety, was lost by Stamford AFC on Saturday as they went down 2-0 away at Sutton Coldfield.
A pair of first half goals from striker Zak Lilley was their undoing at Coles Lane as the Daniels remain thoroughly entrenched in the bottom four, second from bottom and five points from safety, having played at least one game more than the closest sides above them.
Stamford now have just 16 games left to keep their place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League.
Daniels manager Graham Drury rewarded Elliot Hodge and Jack Wightwick for their impressive cameos off the bench in last weekend’s 3-2 defeat to Colwyn Bay, with a start. In came Paul Beeson in defence and Connor Green, made his debut at left back as it was all change down the flanks.
After a quiet start on a wet and windy afternoon Lilley gave the hosts the lead in just the eighth minute, he raced onto a ball played over the top of the defence and beat goalkeeper Jonathan Hedge, in for the banned Paul Bastock, to poke it home.
Hodge had another bright game for Stamford and he was the creator of two of their best chances before the break, first Green headed over a good cross and then no one managed to get onto another dangerous delivery.
Before that the Daniels received another blow when skipper Jon Challinor was forced off with a face injury, bringing Greg Smith into the action.
Stamford were creating chances but they failed to finish them, a problem with has plagued them since the New Year. Jake Newman found some open space but he lifted the ball over both the home keeper James Wren and the crossbar, then Wren kept out a shot from Hodge.
A minute before the break it all went wrong, centre back Tom Batchelor brought down Lilley in the box and he dusted himself down to score from the spot despite Hedge diving the right way.
Sutton Coldfield went close to making it 3-0 in second half, with just the woodwork denying the hosts from a dangerous free-kick.
Wren denied Newman after a good cross from Lee Beeson set-up a shooting chance, but the goalkeeper then had to leave the field with an injury, seeing right back Danny O’Callaghan move between the sticks. But Stamford failed to test him enough, forcing just the one save from Greg Smith.
The Daniels have a distraction from their league woes tomorrow night (Tuesday) when they host Carlton Town in the third round of the Integro Doodson League Cup.
Stamford AFC: Jonathan Hedge, Jon Challinor (Greg Smith), Connor Green, Paul Malone (Jordan Smith), Tom Batchelor, Tom McGowan, Lee Beeson, Jake Duffy, Jake Newman, Jack Wightwick (Chris Hamilton), Elliot Hodge.
Substitutes unused: Sam Hill and James Jepson.
Sutton Coldfield: James Wren, Danny O’Callaghan, Aaron Forde, Joel Kettle, Scott Lycett, Ryan Edmunds, Jordan Goddard, Malaki Farquharson, Zak Lilley, Luke Hubbins.
Substitutes: Stephen Palmer, Tom Turton, James Beresford.
Referee: Mr C Husband