Stamford AFC fell to their second loss of the season on Saturday, going down 3-1 away at Ramsbottom United.
The result means Stamford have slipped one place to second in the league after their stunning unbeaten five game streak at the start of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League season had seem them go top.
At the weekend they were leapfrogged by Skelmersdale United who beat Frickley Athletic 1-0 on the road. The two clubs are even on points, 15, but United are top thanks to a better goal difference.
Stamford went into the match at Ramsbottom weakened by injury, with the midfield missing Cameron Powell and Dan Lawlor, who could both be out for a few weeks, and perhaps most importantly prolific striker Ryan Robbins struggling with an ankle ligament injury.
Skipper Richard Jones started the match despite being doubtful with a half injury and had to be withdrawn at half time.
However Stamford manager David Staff was in no mode for making excuses after the match. He said: “Their midfield kept the ball better than we did and that is where all possession comes from. They were slightly better than us in areas and we have to bounce back to get to the level we want to be at.
“After our good start is now a case of teams coming at us but we have got to get used to that. Our standards have dropped from where they were at the start of the season and we need to get back to that level.
“It makes it difficult when you have injuries because we are a small squad but we have strength in depth so it is no excuse.”
Once again, just as last week, there was an air of misfortune to Ramsbottom’s first goal.
A corner was swung in 10 minutes into the game and although Steven Howson turned away to celebrate the goal it looked like the last touch had been off a Daniels player in his own net.
However Stamford pulled a goal back on the half hour mark when an excellent free kick from Nathan Fox took a deflection and went in via Michael Built’s foot. And so it remained until half time but two sloppy goals after the break took the game away from the travelling side.
In the 58th minute Stamford were undone by a decent cross from the wing which Jordon Hulmne directed in, without too much challenge from the Daniels defence.
The final goal on the 75th minute saw Stamford caught on the ball in midfield and Philip Dean was released one-on-one with Daniels’ keeper Richard Knight. The striker calmly slide the ball under him to seal the result.
Despite being an injury doubt Ryan Robbins came off the bench with 10 minutes left to try and salvage something but was unable to do so.
Staff said: “It was a slight gamble to play him but there were no adverse conditions. He is unlikely to start tomorrow but we will put him through a fitness test on the night.”
Stamford look to get back on track tomorrow night (Tuesday) when they host bottom of the league Barwell.
However Staff is not taking the trip Barwell lightly, with the memories of their defeats home and away last season fresh in his mind.
He said the fact they are bottom of the league means nothing at this early stage and he expects that come the end of the season many clubs who have had a slower start to their campaign will be in a play-off position.
A pragmatic Staff said: “Yeah you could say we are joint top or you could say we are nine points of relegation. It’s early days.”
STAMFORD:- Richard Knight, Ellis Myles, Nathan Fox, Lewis Carr, Richard Jones, Emeka Nwadike, Michael Built, Jon Challinor, Nabil Shariff, Jordan Smith, Shawn Richards
Subs:- Matthew Cotton, Ryan Robbins, Dalton Bettles, Ryan Clarke, Matt Carter