Stamford AFC facing tough festive fixtures

Stamford AFC v Ilkeston.  Photo by Geoff Atton
Stamford AFC v Ilkeston. Photo by Geoff Atton
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The Daniels face a tough three-match festive programme after seeing their four-game unbeaten run come to an end against Ilkeston.

Their Evo-Stik Northern Premier visitors were the more clinical finishers on Saturday in earning a 2-0 victory despite Stamford creating plenty of chances.

This weekend the Daniels make the long trip north of Newcastle to take on eighth-placed Blyth Spartans.

And they host local derby rivals King’s Lynn Town in the big Boxing Day clash, ko 3pm.

Just two days later, on Saturday, December 28, complacency might be the biggest enemy for inconsistent Stamford when they are at home against bottom-placed Droylsden.

Manager David Staff said: “The Blyth fixture is very important. They are especially good at home, which might be down to them being the longest trip in our league, but that’s football.

“These are three games which we are capable of getting something out of, but we have been too inconsistent.

“Saturday’s result was a little disappointing. We didn’t quite put enough into the first 20 minutes.

“They did the simple things better than us.

“We have ambitions to continue to improve and one of those things we have to do is to work harder in the initial stages of matches.

“We are not a side that can win when playing at 80 per cent.

“What was encouraging was that it wasn’t just Ryan Robbins getting chances.

“We had 15 shots on Saturday and although we didn’t score, at least we are creating those chances.”

On Saturday, Ilkeston skipper Laurie Wilson grabbed the initiative when he scored on 27 minutes after Stamford failed to clear a free kick.

The Daniels had their chances to equalise, with Jon Challinor putting a good effort narrowly wide and Nabil Shariff forcing a good block from visiting keeper Rob Peet.

Robbins too was frustrated by Peet, having outpaced the Ilkeston defence, and Dan Lawlor hit a fierce drive which Peet again saved.

Shariff went close with an ambitious lob but Ilkeston, meanwhile, were also pressurising the Stamford defence when they got the ball.

Although that pressure continued after the break, Challinor and Shariff had further good chances.

The game was sealed, however, after Alex Lynch brought down Ilkeston sub Kane Richards in the box in the 80th minute.

Tyrell Waite made no mistake with the resultant penalty to end the visitors’ recent poor run.

Despite Robbins starting a three-game suspension for his red card in the 2-2 draw at Frickley Athletic, Staff is confident he has the necessary firepower in the shape of recent signing Shariff and Northampton Town loanee David Moyo.

Staff expects all to be fit for the Christmas programme, something he will need for the King’s Lynn derby.

“That game matters a lot to the fans,” he said, “and it matters a lot to myself - I was at the club for a bit.

“Motivation will not be an issue for that game and playing a derby like that on Boxing Day is always a great fixture on the calendar.

“Droylsden will be a different type of game but they’re improving all the time. We have to go into that game with the right attitude.”

Stamford: Alex Lynch, Shawn Richards, Jason Field, Jack Ashton, Richard Jones, Ryan Walker (Ash Robinson), Dan Lawlor, Jon Challinor, Nabil Shariff (Alvin Jarvis), Jordan Smith, Ryan Robbins (David Moyo). Subs not used: Liam Richardson, Will Jones.

Man of match: Dan Lawlor.

l The coach on Saturday for the long trip to Blyth Spartans will be leaving the Vic Couzens Stadium at 8.15am. To book a seat, call or text Phil Bee on 07772 646776.