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Blackstones host Stamford AFC in a memorial match for Jeremy Biggs



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Blackstones joint boss Jon Harrison wants high standards of effort and work-rate to become second nature to his side as they prepare for another tough pre-season test.

After starting their South Kesteven Charity Cup campaign on Saturday with a hard-working display against Northern Premier League East Division side Grantham Town, Stones welcome Stamford to the Torney Limited Stadium for the Jeremy Biggs Memorial Cup tie on Wednesday night (7.45pm).

It's the second match in four days against a side two levels above Stones who emerged with great credit on Saturday after just missing out against the Gingerbreads in a penalty shoot-out after the two teams finished level at 1-1 after 90 minutes.

Grantham Town striker Ricky Miller looks for a way through the Blackstones defence on Saturday. Photo: Toby Roberts
Grantham Town striker Ricky Miller looks for a way through the Blackstones defence on Saturday. Photo: Toby Roberts

Harrison said: "We have to understand that there will be games this year where we have to set up and grow into the game.

"We have to make sure that we're not out of games inside the first 25 minutes and we limited Grantham to very few chances early on.

"We stuck at it and then decided to keep it tight until the hour mark before we started to have a go.

"We didn't change to be the better side or anything but we stayed quite tight and then had a real go in the last 10 or 15 minutes and got our rewards with an equaliser.

"We wanted to go there and show that we can kick in and dig in for each other. It was about seeing what the boys could bring in terms of effort and work-rate.

"We need that to become like second nature. We don't want to be asking players to work hard. They need to know that, whatever side we play, they will run themselves into the ground for us and the quality will always come through."

Match action from Blackstones clash with Stamford last season in the Jeremy Biggs memorial match. Photo: Alan Walters
Match action from Blackstones clash with Stamford last season in the Jeremy Biggs memorial match. Photo: Alan Walters

The recently-appointed Harrison is also hoping that Blackstones can produce a performance on Wednesday night that will erase memories of last season's cup clash with the Daniels.

Stamford ran out 9-0 winners with Harrison - who took over at the helm with Ryan Wood at the start of this season - looking for his side to emerge with credit against Graham Drury's charges.

He added: "It's good for the town to have this game and it's always nice to have a friendly with your bigger sister.

Jeremy Biggs (57923643)
Jeremy Biggs (57923643)

"It will be backs to the wall for us though and we need to get a good shape and see how long we can stay in the game for and then give it another go.

"We want to make sure that we don't get beat like what happened to Blackstones last season.

"It's all for a good cause and Jeremy was a lovely fella so I hope that people turn out for the occasion and, if they leave there on Wednesday thinking we're a team to be taken seriously now, then that will be a good thing."

Match action from Blackstones clash with Stamford last season in the Jeremy Biggs memorial match. Photo: Alan Walters
Match action from Blackstones clash with Stamford last season in the Jeremy Biggs memorial match. Photo: Alan Walters

The match will be Stones fourth game of pre-season as they beat FC Peterborough 7-1 before drawing 2-2 with Parson Drove ahead of the Grantham clash.

At the South Kesteven Stadium on Saturday, goalkeeper Bartosz Berezowski saved a first half Ricky Miller penalty after the ex-Stamford striker had been brought down.

Former Chesterfield forward Lee Shaw then put the Gingerbreads ahead shortly after but they were unable to add to their tally and, when Dami Agboola was fouled in the box in the 90th minute, Mark Baines converted the resultant spot kick to level the tie.

Former Daniels goalkeeper Dan Haystead then saved two spot kicks as Grantham progressed 4-2 to the final against either Harrowby or Bourne.

Harrison commented: "The whole of pre-season has been a bit of a 'find out' mission and we will probably know where we are after the game on Saturday against either Harrowby or Bourne.

"We're not far away and we've had a good pre-season in terms of fitness and hopefully the football side of things will now start to come.

James Blunden scores Stamford's first goal against AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday. Photo: Rob O'Brien (57924153)
James Blunden scores Stamford's first goal against AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday. Photo: Rob O'Brien (57924153)

"Work-rate is a massive thing and we coped really well on Saturday. They probably had 75 per cent possession in the first half and maybe 65 per cent in the second half. We were never on top at any stage but we never really expected to be."

Stamford will go into the contest having run out 5-3 winners against AFC Rushden & Diamonds in their pre-season opener on Saturday.

James Blunden gave them a second minute lead which was cancelled out by Diamonds' equaliser just past the half-hour mark.

Jonathan Margetts put Stamford back in front with Rob Morgan adding the third before the break.

Jon Challinor made it four nine minutes into the second half with Rodrigo Goncalves scoring their fifth before Diamonds netted twice in the last 12 minutes.

Stamford are also at home tonight (Tuesday) when they entertain Thurlow Nunn League side Swaffham with manager Graham Drury looking to get more minutes into his players.

Rob Morgan nets against AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday. Photo: Rob O'Brien (57924155)
Rob Morgan nets against AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday. Photo: Rob O'Brien (57924155)

He said: "We will be looking at splitting the group into two and trying to get 90 minutes into everybody which is the real key.

"It will be beneficial just to get the minutes in with us maybe being a week behind to some of the groups having started our pre-season later.

"We should then have half decent numbers for the game at Quorn on Saturday and then it will be time to tidy things up."

Jon Challinor salutes his goal against AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday. Photo: Rob O'Brien (57924157)
Jon Challinor salutes his goal against AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday. Photo: Rob O'Brien (57924157)

The derby duel with Blackstones will be the second staging of the trophy to celebrate the life of Jeremy who passed away suddenly in December 2016.

He was closely associated with both clubs, having been club secretary for the Daniels while also a regular at Blackstones in his role as press officer and registration director of the United Counties League.

Drury added: "Jeremy was brilliant for me as secretary when I first joined the club and continuously throughout my time in management. If you ever wanted to know about anything to do with the game he had the answer.

"He was always there for information and he was just a footballing oracle. I am hoping that the fans will come out and support the game because it's good for the community and for everyone in Stamford."



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