FOOTBALL: Stamford AFC lose to Leek Town

Jon Challinor is tackled by Hartlepool's Josh Laurent  - Pic by: Richard Parkes EMN-160711-101604001
Jon Challinor is tackled by Hartlepool's Josh Laurent - Pic by: Richard Parkes EMN-160711-101604001
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Stamford AFC’s bid to climb the Evo-Stik NPL First Division South table stuttered on Saturday when they lost 3-2 at home to Leek Town.

The Daniels fought back from a losing position twice during the match but the visitors to the Zeeco Stadium took all three points when James Curley struck with a header in the 71st minute.

Tim Grice put the visitors, who sit seventh in the league, ahead after nine minutes, but Grant Ryan struck back eight minutes before the break for the hosts. However that was not the end of the first half action as a Daniel Shelley free-kick, which took a heavy deflection, finished in the net meaning Stamford trailed 2-1 at the halfway point.

Lee Beeson levelled from the penalty spot in the 66th minute but the Daniels were level for all of five minutes before Curley put Leek back in front to win the match.

The Daniels started the match well, and in fact had more shots than the visitors over the 90 minutes. Two of those efforts came early on with John King forcing a save out of Leek goalkeeper Chris Martin.

Leek were more clinical when their first chance came, Stamford’s failure to clear the ball was punished by Grice who smashed a half-volley past Daniels keeper Sam Donkin.

Ryan then fired a shot over the bar before finally hitting the mark. Lee Beeson’s curled a corner into the penalty box and the visitors twice failed to clear the danger properly, first the defender’s attempted clearance went across the goal, keeper Martin managed to punch it clear but he got no distance on his effort and Ryan headed home from about six yards out.

But rather than kick on, Stamford immediately got themselves into trouble. Centre back Chris Salt fouled the visiting attacker on the edge of the penalty area and that allowed Shelley to slam the ball into the wall and watch it fortuitously deflect past Donkin.

After the break Leek Town made a great start, Grice had an effort blocked by the home defence and then Anthony Danylyk forced an excellent save out of Donkin with a shot from distance.

But Stamford manager Graham Drury went on the attack, bringing on an extra attacker and switching to three at the back. Elliot Sandy replaced John King and Jevani Brown came on for Taylor Rhiney. The change immediately paid off with the Daniels winning a penalty for a handball, allowing Beeson to extend his impressive record from the spot.

Brown could have given Stamford the lead moments later but he slipped just as he shot and the ball flew over the bar.

In the end Stamford’s poor defending at a corner allowed Curley to head home for all three points, and saw Stamford drop down a place in the table to 19th.

It’s back to cup action for the Daniels on Tuesday night when they travel to Lincoln United in the Integro League Cup, 7.45pm ko.

Stamford: Sam Donkin, Lee Beeson, Jon Challinor, Sam Hill, Chris Salt, Kern Miller (c), Jordan Smith, Jake Duffy, Grant Ryan, Taylor Rhiney (Jevani Brown), John King (Elliot Sandy). Subs: Ollie Luto, Delroy Gordon, Ollie Brown-Hill.

Leek Town: Chris Martin, Mackenzie Faulkner, Alex Morris, Niall Maguire (c), Toby Mullarkey, James Curley, Tom France, Dan Shelley, Tim Grice, Chris Burdrys, Ron Stevenson. Subs: Ricky Bridge,, Jordan Johnson, Sam Grimshaw, Ben Chapman.

Attendance: 230