Stamford AFC pulled off a bit of FA Cup magic last night (Tuesday) as they beat high-flying Leamington 2-1 at the Zeeco Stadium.
Greg Smith was one of the heroes for the Daniels when he scored the winning goal deep into injury time to beat the second place team in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division.
Just like the first game, a 1-1 draw on Saturday, Stamford took the lead early on Tuesday with a fourth minute strike, this time from the impressive Nathan Hicks who hooked the ball over the advancing Leamington keeper Tony Breeden.
So once again Stamford had a 1-0 lead to defend for 86 minutes to advance to the FA Cup second round qualifying, and they held out until the last five minutes of the match when tired legs meant the Daniels failed to pressure the ball out wide and some neat interplay opened the home defence up for James Mace to practically walk the ball into the net.
Worse was yet to come. Just minutes later a hopeful through ball caught the stoic Stamford defence out and Lewis Carr, desperately racing back, was judged to have brought down the Leamington striker in the box.
He was shown red and the visitors lined up to take the spot kick. It was hit low and hard to Stamford keeper Richard Knight’s left but he guessed the right way and made a save worth at least £3,000, the Daniels’ purse for winning the tie, and it could prove to be priceless for the club’s morale going forward.
It was just one of many remarkable saves on the night, perhaps his best an outstanding save with his right leg at full stretch when Leamington looked favourite to score.
With Stamford playing a man down they needed a goal before the match went into extra time and in injury time big Greg Smith, who had looked close to losing his temper in the first half as he niggled with every Leamington player within sight and got on the wrong side of referee Matthew Smith, powerfully headed home a beautiful cross from Ryan Robbins to spark the celebrations at the Zeeco Stadium and send Stamford through to the next round.
Next up for Stamford is a trip to Coleshill Town FC who beat Newcastle Town 3-1 in their own replay last night.
The man of the match award was quite rightly given to Stamford skipper Richard Jones who had a dominant night in defence while bringing the best out of those around him.