Vital victory gets Stamford’s promotion push back on track
Stamford got their promotion push back on track with a hard-fought 1-0 away victory at Lincoln United on Saturday.
Eliot Putman’s strike midway through the second half secured a vital away victory for the Daniels and ensured they bounced back following their disappointing derby defeat at Peterborough Sports on New Year’s Day.
Manager Graham Drury was full of praise for his squad which included returning striker Olly Brown-Hill who is back in the Stamford ranks after spells this season at AFC Rushden & Diamonds and Corby Town.
Drury said: “I’m over the moon. It’s a local derby against a team who have been a bit of bogey side to us over the past seasons so to win both games against them, score four goals without conceding and take six points is really pleasing.
“Lincoln deserve a lot of credit because they’ve been on a good run of form, but we stayed strong and showed a real willingness to work for each other.
“We had to show a lot of character. The work-rate was a lot better than in Monday’s game and it was a great team performance full of hard work and endeavour.
“I had been asking Olly to come training for the past couple of weeks, but he said he wanted to work more on his fitness and he’s lost a stone-and-a-half. He played a massive part in helping us get the win.
“I was really proud of the lads in the changing room afterwards and it’s a lot better feeling than New Year’s Day because that was the most disappointed I’d been in a long while.”
On a tricky playing surface that cut up as the game progressed, Stamford fielded the same side that had started the excellent away win at Chasetown last month with both Ben George and Mike Armstrong returning after missing the Peterborough Sports setback.
Both sides created openings in the early exchanges with home defender Phil Watt clearing the danger after Whites goalkeeper Phil McGann had spilled a cross from George.
Jack McGovern headed a Scott Matthews cross while the Lincoln full-back then saw a fierce centre deflected over the crossbar.
Paul Grimes fired over for the hosts while Whites defender James Blunden did well to halt Bradley Wells’ progress with a timely tackle as he homed in on goal in his final match of his loan spell with the Daniels.
Stamford goalkeeper Dan Haystead smartly palmed away a Matt Cotton shot before the action quickly switched to the other end where McGovern headed an inswinging corner from Putman off the line.
McGann did well to tip away a looping cross from Liam Adams while the Whites custodian was also equal to a well-struck free-kick from Jake Duffy.
Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson saw a fine effort deflected over while Haystead had to be alert to smother a low shot from Rob Norris as the half ended goalless despite the attacking endeavours of both sides.
Lincoln started the second half brightly and Charlie Ward put an early header over from a corner while Daniels defender Henry Eze did well to clear under pressure following a Norris cross.
The Stamford rearguard continued to stand strong amid of couple of goalmouth scrambles while Grimes hooked a shot straight at Haystead.
McGovern rattled the upright when he diverted a Jack Wightwick centre goalwards before Stamford broke the deadlock after 67 minutes.
The double introduction of Brown-Hill and Jordan Smith had the desired effect as the former made a spritely surge forward before teeing up Smith who powered down the left and centred for Putman to apply a composed and sublime finish at the back post.
Sam Hollis had a chance to add a second Stamford goal when he headed wide from a pinpoint George cross before the Daniels batten down the hatches for a late Lincoln onslaught.
Watt and Grimes both flashed efforts wide while two free-kicks in dangerous positions were successfully blocked by the Stamford wall.
Duffy produced a crucial defensive header to clear with Cotton waiting to pounce while Haystead kept out a McGovern free-kick in injury-time as Stamford’s 13th clean sheet of the season provided the backbone of their victory.
The success also took Stamford back into the play-off places and the challenge now is to remain there ahead of fourth-placed Frickley’s visit to the Zeeco Stadium next Saturday.
Lincoln: McGann, Callum Ward, Matthews, Charlie Ward (Toyne), Watt, Blunden, Norris (Oliver), Cotton, McGovern, Grimes, Wightwick. Not used: Smith, Hornsey, Hutchinson-Wilkes.
Stamford: Haystead, George, Putman, Armstrong, Gordon, Eze, Morgan, Duffy, Wells (Smith), Adams (Brown-Hill), Fortnam-Tomlinson (Hollis). Not used: Challinor, Mwanyongo.