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Reaction from Stamford AFC manager Graham Drury after the Daniels are defeated by Hereford in the FA Trophy

Manager Graham Drury was left with a mixed feeling of pride and frustration following their FA Trophy exit on Tuesday night.

The Stamford boss was full of praise for his side's achievement in the competition this season where they have claimed the higher level scalps of Stourbridge and Kidderminster.

But he was left to rue a lack of creativity from his usual free-scoring Stamford side who were unable to find a way past an organised and disciplined Hereford team who netted a goal in each half through Tom Owen-Evans and then defied a double dismissal to progress to the fifth round.

Stamford manager Graham Drury. Photo: Dan Allen (44036675)
Stamford manager Graham Drury. Photo: Dan Allen (44036675)

Drury said: "If I'm being hard on my players then it was just that little lack of movement to create space in behind them.

"We were trying to hit the player rather than space to create, but Hereford defended superbly and I can't take anything away from them.

"They showed why they have so conceded so few goals in the National League North. They were very strong and organised.

"We did stop their full-backs getting forward because they usually bomb on, but they got the goal early so they could sit in.

"It would have been interesting if we had got back to 1-1, but we didn't create enough opportunities to do that which was frustrating.

"That comes with movement into space for me and making players' minds up where to put the ball, but overall we have competed well all over the pitch and probably shaded the possession."

Hereford hit the front after 10 minutes of the contest at the Zeeco Stadium through Owen-Evans' opening goal.

The Bulls were then reduced to 10 men early in the second half when Ben Pollock was sent off.

The dismissal of Luke Haines later in the second period to leave Hereford with nine men then looked to have swung the contest in Stamford's favour.

James Hicks sees his route forward blocked. Photo: Alan Walters (44036757)
James Hicks sees his route forward blocked. Photo: Alan Walters (44036757)

But Owen-Evans struck again shortly after with 12 minutes of the contest remaining following a rare error from Stamford's new signing Nathan Stainfield.

Drury added: "We tried everything and went three at the back, but conceding the second goal really took the wind out of our sails.

"It was our real chance because we had put two players up top, pushed wider and had a man in the hole behind so we were looking to really stretch them across the pitch which was when we could have created the space.

"It was unfortunate for Nathan because we know what a top player he is.

"You would normally expect him to head it 30 yards up the pitch but, he probably thought that with the strong wind, it would come straight back so he tried to nod it back to the keeper and it's hit him and fell for their lad who was pro-active on the move.

"It was that little bit of extra quality because they were on the move to take those gambles into space.

"That was exactly where the first goal came from. He's gambled by going into between our defenders and by the time we've got over he's turned and finished.

"It was just clever movement by players with that know-how and my lads are learning that."

The match was Stamford's first competitive game since their victory over Kidderminster last month but Drury felt that wasn't a factor in the outcome of the contest.

Hereford's disciplined defence keeps Stamford at bay. Photo: Alan Walters (44036759)
Hereford's disciplined defence keeps Stamford at bay. Photo: Alan Walters (44036759)

He continued: "We don't want to make excuses because we didn't look that tired.

"I think we showed some really good fitness levels and showed that we can compete with another National League North side.

"They are a big, big club and the lads have showed that, if we can just get that little bit of know-how, we can compete at this level.

"We perhaps couldn't be a threat at National League North level with this group of players. You would have to bring a little bit of quality in.

"But we are two levels below that and, if we had been playing against a team at our standard, we would have won the game.

"We had the possession and worked the ball and they don't close the gaps as quick as National League North sides do.

"Hereford train full-time and the difference is that they brought in Callum Rowe from Aston Villa and we signed Kieran Duffy-Weekes from Stamford Bels.

"That's not being disrespectful because Kieran is a good player with a lot of potential, but it just shows the gulf in levels.

"I'm really proud of the lads because they have given everything they had got. We might have got a goal with a bit more clever movement and it could have been a different story.

"It wasn't to be though. It was a great cup run with a good bunch of players. We will dust ourselves down now and wait to see what happens."


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