Stamford stalemate after frustrating goalless draw
Stamford suffered an afternoon of frustration as they were held to a goalless draw away at Belper Town on Saturday.
The Daniels dominated large parts of the contest, but were found wanting in the final third against a home side who played the final 11 minutes with 10 men following the sending off of centre-back Jake Carlisle.
Too many crosses were either overhit or eluded the incoming players as the home side produced a gritty defensive display to keep Stamford at the bay.
The stalemate still keeps Stamford firmly in the driving seat to clinch a play-off place despite a frustrating afternoon for boss Graham Drury who was forced to withdraw Kieran Wells, Liam Adams and Jake Duffy during the game through injury.
Drury said: “We worked the ball into good areas and we were more patient this week, but nothing has fallen for us.
“We were just not good enough in the final third to claim the three points.
“It is another point towards out target but, after working the ball into a good position to score, we started to panic and didn’t have enough composure, especially in the first half.
“I’m not downbeat because we could create the same amount of chances next week and that might be enough to win the game.
“We kept trying to play the right way though and Belper deserve some credit for the way they kept battling right until the end.
“We won our personal battles though and it’s up to us now to keep our nerve because the teams that do that will be the ones who make the play-offs.”
Goalkeeper Dan Haystead returned to the Stamford side after missing last week’s win over Leek with the only other change being Liam Adams coming in for Olly Brown-Hill.
The Daniels made a bright start against a Nailers team who were unbeaten in their last three Evo-Stik League Division One South games.
Brad Wells fizzed a fierce strike wide of the home goal while an inswinging corner from Eliot Putman had Belper custodian Joe Searson-Smithard at full stretch to tip away.
Searson-Smithard again excelled to push over an excellent effort from Kieran Wells while Duffy saw a shot from distance fly over the crossbar.
The closest the hosts came was shortly before half-time when Haydn Goddard’s curling free kick was smartly turned away by Haystead.
Stamford continued on the offensive after the break as they looked for an elusive opener with Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinon entering the fray to replaced the injured Kieran Wells.
A towering header from Henry Eze was blocked on the line while Goddard did well at full stretch to clear a Putman cross with Adams waiting to pounce.
Fortnam-Tomlinson showed neat skills to create an opening before firing over while Brown-Hill, on for Adams, also sent a well-struck effort wide.
Carlisle was dismissed after 79 minutes when he picked up his second caution of the game and Stamford cranked up the pressure.
A series of goalmouth scrambles prompted a couple of penalty shouts that fell on deaf ears while a deflected effort from a corner cannoned back off the post.
The rousing finale saw Putman connect sweetly when well-placed but home skipper Dominic Allen hurled himself in front of the ball to make a brilliant block which ensured Stamford had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Stamford: Haystead, George, Putman, Armstrong, Gordon, Eze, Morgan, Duffy (Challinor), K Wells (Fortnam-Tomlinson), B Wells, Adams (Brown-Hill). Subs not used: Smith, Ball.