STAMFORD 3-0 NEWCASTLE TOWN
The starting line-up was the same as Saturday with new signing Sean Wright from Lincoln United on the bench. With King’s Lynn not playing it was a chance to go back in to second place.
It was a bright start with Stamford taking the lead after seven minutes. After a foul on Ben Saunders in the D, both Andy Hall and Danny Brooks shaped to take the free kick but it was the trusty left foot of Brooks that gave Dave Parton in the Newcastle goal no chance as the ball crashed in off the underside of the bar.
Ten minutes later, another foul stopped a mazy run from Ricky Miller. This time Hall took the free kick from about 25 yards but the ball didn’t curl enough and flashed past the post.
The first 20 minutes or so was nearly all Stamford with Newcastle barely in the Stamford half but they then started to lift their game pushing the home side back. With 27 minutes gone, that pressure could have been very expensive for Stamford when Nathan Sutton got behind the Stamford defence and took the ball one on one towards Stamford keeper Matt Finlay. After a brief hesitation Finlay came right to the edge of the box before clearly tripping Sutton as he tried to go round the keeper. Football thinking is that over a season events even themselves out. Stamford supporters could point out recent games when a referee’s decision about which card to show has favoured opponents when a yellow card emerged rather than the red. Stamford keeper Matt Finlay would have been grateful when the referee proved the theory when he brought out just the yellow card. The next contentious issue for Newcastle players was where the ball would be placed but this time the referee correctly awarded a free kick just outside the box.
There were five minutes left in the half before either side had another chance but again Finlay was involved, this time clearing the ball straight to a Newcastle player. His cross was half cleared to Tom France but he shot straight into the arms of a relieved Finlay.
Stamford had much of the first half possession but, apart from the two free kicks, without really creating much threat to the Newcastle goal. More to the point, they still had eleven on the pitch.
Jordan Hempenstall created the first second half chance weaving through several defenders before shooting past the far post. At the other end Sutton was brought down again just outside the box but Tim Sanders hit the ball straight at Adam Hewitt.
A superb through ball all along the ground from James Ozmen set up Miller but, under pressure from Parton, his shot cleared the bar.
Right on the hour, Stamford rode their luck when they conceded another free kick just outside the box. A good delivery was headed past keeper and defenders but hit the foot of the post and hoofed away.
That was the last chance for Newcastle as a couple of minutes later Stamford doubled their lead and took control of the game. Another ball into the Newcastle box found Miller but, tightly marked, he played it back to Ben Saunders who immediately touched it sideways for Ozmen to sidefoot the ball home from the 18 yard line.
Miller again turned provider setting up Jack McGovern - his shot beat the keeper but then justcleared the bar.
With five minutes left, Miller showed his skill again keeping the ball in the Newcastle area. His cross was deflected to Hempenstall who drove the ball home.
In the end 3-0 was a fair result with Stamford playing most of the creative football. It will be a much tougher challenge on Saturday with the trip to fifth place Belper.
Stamford: Matt Finlay, Jack McGovern, Adam Hewitt (Dan Marshall 67), Sam Saunders, Richard Jones, Danny Brooks, Andy Hall, James Ozmen, Ben Saunders (Sean Wright 67), Ricky Miller. Subs not used: David Staff, Tom Batchelor, John Swales.
MoM: Danny Brooks
Newcastle Town: Dave Parton. Matt Lowe, Ricky Bridge, Mark Ruddock, Aaron Carter, Paul Whaley, Jay Burgess (Josh Gordon 59), James Askey Jon Hughes 74), Nathan Sutton (Callum Kenny 82), Tim Sanders, Tom France