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Reaction from Stamford AFC manager Graham Drury after his side's play-off semi-final defeat



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Manager Graham Drury praised the efforts of his players after the 10-man Daniels suffered an agonising play-off defeat on Tuesday night.

Stamford played for more than 50 minutes with 10 men following the first half dismissal of Marshall Willock after he received a second booking.

They had fallen behind moments earlier and then saw a second half Harry Vince penalty saved as they looked for a way back into the contest.

Manager Graham Drury. Photo: Rob O'Brien (56318205)
Manager Graham Drury. Photo: Rob O'Brien (56318205)

A second Belper goal in injury time was followed shortly after by Cosmos Matwasa's last-gasp strike for Stamford.

But it ultimately proved in vain as Belper held out to secure their place in Saturday's final against Chasetown with boss Drury ruing his side's luck on the night.

He said: "It just didn't go for us with the sending off after a misplaced kick for their first goal.

"We just didn't have that bit of luck with hitting the post early on and then having another chance because on another day they would go in.

"Sometimes lady luck isn't with you, but you have to give credit to Belper because they defended really well.

"Maybe we put it on their heads too much and were a bit too direct at times instead of working it. Their keeper has made a couple of good saves and obviously the penalty miss is very costly.

"I just hope that Vinno doesn't take it too much to heart. I know that he is going to be hurting but he has been amazing this season and I wouldn't swap him for any midfielder in our division.

"I have to give credit to my players for the shift which they put in during the second half.

"There has only been one team in it really but that doesn't mean anything now other than that we're out of the competition.

"I think we have thrown everything at it and the lads have worked their socks off with 10 men.

"They have listened to the instructions and done everything which we asked of them."

A bumper crowd of 984 had backed the Daniels in their quest to bring step three football to the Zeeco Stadium.

However, Drury admitted the outcome was devastating as his side failed to deliver the win for their superb support.

He added: "I do feel like we have let a lot of people down. The fans were unbelievable and the crowd was phenomenal. I can't thank each and every one of them enough.

"In my time of being at Stamford, there would have been some haters when I left to go to Corby and Boston United.

"But I think that I have won them over with the performances over the last five years. The players have done that and this is a tough one to take.

"It's devastating news for Stamford and, in one hand, I can't praise the players enough but, in the other, I don't think they took some of the games earlier in the season seriously enough.

"It certainly hasn't been a lack of me trying to get them motivated for the lesser games. I have told them how tough they are and it can come back to bite them and it has.

"At the end of the day, we have only got ourselves to blame and there would have been a lot of people who wanted to see us fall.

"Everybody has been telling us that we're the best team in it, but we're not because we're not in the play-off final or won the league. We haven't been the best team in it because it's down to consistency."

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