Third successive stalemate sums up Stamford’s season
Stamford were held to a third successive draw after an afternoon that summed up their season so far at the Zeeco Stadium on Saturday.
Graham Drury’s charges were again the dominant force against a Loughborough Dynamo side whose tactics seemed to be about wasting as much time as possible to frustrate their hosts following Karl Demidh’s 11th minute opener.
But, as has been the case on so many occasions this season, Stamford failed to turn their dominance into goals as Dynamo’s spoiling tactics thwarted any momentum that the home side tried to muster.
Although the point does mean that Stamford have lost just once in their last 13 Evo-Stik League Division One South games, this was the 14th time this season they were forced to settle for a share of the spoils, much to the annoyance of manager Drury.
He said: “It’s so frustrating. I don’t know whether it’s credit to my lads or if the league is poor, but we’ve come up against another mid-table side who just wanted to play for a point.
“They didn’t try and beat us. They just sat behind the ball which is the cowards way of playing.
“Credit to them for doing what they did because we’ve had another frustrating afternoon in front of goal.
“We should have been 3-0 up before they scored with their only shot on goal. We created chances, but we were not clinical enough and that’s been the story of our season.”
Stamford were forced into making a couple of changes to the side that had been held to a 1-1 draw at Corby in midweek.
Joe Burgess came into the side with regular right-back Ben George struggling with a hernia injury while Liam Adams got the nod over Brad Wells. Jon Challinor also started in the centre of midfield with Jake Duffy unavailable.
Stamford made a bright start and created a number of early openings in the first 10 minutes with Loughborough goalkeeper Charlie Taylor regularly tested.
The Panamanian made a sharp early stop to turn away Rob Morgan’s goalbound effort after Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson’s forceful run had created the opening.
Taylor then did well to clutch hold of Henry Eze’s header from an Adams cross before playing an unexpected role in Loughborough’s opener.
The Dynamo custodian raced out of his box to clear from the on-rushing Fortnam-Tomlinson and Loughborough quickly turned on the offensive with Demidh finding himself in space in the box to slot home past the advancing Dan Haystead.
Stamford continued to probe for an opening with Adams cutting in from the right and sending an effort just over before Mike Armstrong’s well-struck strike was safely gathered by Taylor.
Adams saw another effort after a marauding run palmed away by Taylor who was also equal to Eliot Putman’s well-placed free-kick and a shot on the turn from Fortnam-Tomlinson as Stamford failed to find a reply despite five minutes of first half injury-time.
Wells was introduced at half-time in place of Burgess and within 10 minutes of his introduction he had brought Stamford back on level terms.
Sam Thorpe prodded an effort over when well-placed for the visitors and Stamford made the most of the miss with Adams doing well down the right and sending in a low cross that Wells slid in to convert.
Stamford continued to push forward in search of a second goal and Eze glanced a header over from Challinor’s long throw as the Daniels forced a number of setpieces which gained little reward.
Demidh stung Haystead’s hands with a smart turn and shot in the box before Wells came closest to snatching a winner for the Daniels when his header from Challinor’s corner cannoned back off the crossbar.
Callum Ball and Ollie Brown-Hill were both introduced to offer different attacking options but, try as they might, Stamford were unable to find another way through.
With seventh-placed Leek losing at home to Gresley, Stamford still hold a six point cushion in the play-offs.
However, in-form Lincoln United can close that gap to three points if they win at Market Drayton on Tuesday night and Drury feels his side will need six points from their last three games - away at Romulus and home matches with Gresley and Cleethorpes - to secure a play-off spot.
He added: “Lincoln United are on a roll at the moment and we need to get back on a roll again ourselves.
“We’ve lost just once in 13 league games and, although some might look it at as we’ve only taken three points from the last three games, that’s still taken us three points closer to our target.
“We need to go into the next game really positive and keep believing in what we’re doing. I think we will need two wins out of the last three games, but there’s no reason why we can’t go out and win all three.”
Stamford: Haystead, Burgess (Wells), Putman, Armstrong, Gordon, Eze, Morgan (Ball), Challinor, Smith, Fortnam-Tomlinson, Adams (Brown-Hill). Not used: George.
Loughborough: Taylor, Spearman, Keenan, Sibson, Foster, Andrews, Holmes, Piliero, Thorpe (Durkin), Demidh (Smithson), Gordon (Riley). Not used: Attenborough, Podier.