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Stamford AFC finish in second spot in the Northern Premier League Midlands Division

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Stamford will have home advantage in the race for promotion after a ninth successive win secured second spot in the final game of the regular season on Saturday.

The Daniels defeated Carlton Town 3-0 in front of 660 spectators at the Zeeco Stadium to take the runners-up place behind Northern Premier League Midlands Division champions Ilkeston Town.

Goals from Tendai Chitiza, Harry Vince and Michael Frew helped land the win which saw Stamford overtake Chasetown following their 1-0 defeat at Spalding United.

The Daniels celebrate Micbael Frew's third goal. Photo: Rob O'Brien (56241990)
The Daniels celebrate Micbael Frew's third goal. Photo: Rob O'Brien (56241990)

The Daniels will now entertain fifth-placed Belper Town in the play-off semi-final on Tuesday night where victory will mean home advantage in the final next weekend.

Jonathan Margetts and Jake Duffy both returned to the starting line-up on Saturday while Sean Wright came in for Marshall Willock in the changes to the Stamford side from Monday's win at Yaxley.

There was a lot at stake for both sides going into the game with Carlton still harbouring hopes of reaching the play-offs.

And the Millers had a couple of good chances early on as Alex Howes blazed one opening over before Tyler Blake latched onto a long clearance and burst clear before firing his shot high and wide.

Stamford also threatened with Jack Duffy well-placed to meet a couple of headers which went straight at Carlton keeper Shaun Rowley.

Jonathan Margetts curled a free-kick just wide before a cracking strike from Connor Bartle brought a flying save out of Rowley.

Harry Vince celebrates his goal. Photo: Rob O'Brien (56241988)
Harry Vince celebrates his goal. Photo: Rob O'Brien (56241988)

Stamford looked the more dangerous as the half wore on and Margetts had an effort in a crowded box blocked after Chitiza and won the race with Rowley and rounded the Carlton custodian.

The vital opening goal then arrived three minutes before half-time when Chitiza cut in from the left and his well-struck shot took a deflection before looping over Rowley and into the net.

Stamford came out for the second half looking for the all-important next goal to double their lead and they came close just before the hour mark when Cosmos Matwasa teed up Harry Vince after a flowing move with the midfielder's low strike hitting the post.

Fortune then favoured the Daniels as they doubled their lead midway through the half through Vince.

The former Boston United player had tried to take the free-kick quickly, only to be pulled back by the referee as his curling effort hit the post.

Vince varied his strike the second time around and his low drive took a wicked deflection off the turf before rearing up to loop up and over Rowley and into the net.

Joe Burgess bursts forward. Photo: Rob O'Brien (56241984)
Joe Burgess bursts forward. Photo: Rob O'Brien (56241984)

Tempers then frayed as a flashpoint near the dug-out saw the match delayed for five minutes before order was restored.

Jack Duffy was booked for the Daniels while home boss Graham Drury and Carlton counterpart Mark Harvey were also cautioned for failing to control their dug-outs.

Millers co-boss Tommy Brookbanks continued his protests and was red-carded against his former club.

The delay didn't disrupt the Daniels though and they added a third goal in injury time to seal their success.

Jake Duffy was the driving force as he won possession and surged forward past a couple of challenges to break clear before setting up substitute Frew for an easy tap-in.

Stamford could then have added a fourth goal as Vince broke clear and rounded the keeper only to see his shot hit the post and roll agonisingly across the goal before being cleared as the Daniels saw out the game in the ascendency.

Cosmos Matwasa. Photo: Rob O'Brien (56241986)
Cosmos Matwasa. Photo: Rob O'Brien (56241986)

Stamford: Wallis, Burgess, Bartle, Vince, Wright, Blunden, Chitiza, Jake Duffy, Jack Duffy (Morgan 89), Margetts (Frew 90), Matwasa. Subs not used: Willock, Armstrong, Challinor.

Carlton: Rowley, Gorman, Fletcher, Ball, Brown, Holmes, Watson, Sargent (Tait 64), Blake (Opoku 46), O'Connor, Howes (Czerwak 46). Subs not used: Johal, Moore.

Attendance: 660.

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