A united Stamford AFC were left battered and brusied by the Evo-Stik NPL’s top goal scorers on Saturday.
The Daniels, led by club captain and now caretaker manager Jon Challinor for the first time, lost 4-0 at home to Nantwich Town.
But there was an air of bad luck to the scoreline as the visitors scored with their only four shots on target. However Stamford failed to find the target even once, mustering just seven shots off target on a physically punishing afternoon which saw three home players stagger, limp and get carried off the field.
Centre back Dominic McGarr was concused just 12 minutes in, replaced by Dalton Bettles who then collided with goalkeeper Richard Knight in the closing moments, which led to him being stretchered from the pitch in a neck brace and taken to hospital. He was released that night.
Striker Jordan Smith also withdrew with a sore hip before the half time whistle.
After passing a pitch inspection because of the heavy rain Nantwich had the first shot when Steve Jones put a volly wide from a half cleared corner.
Tackling was robust and McGarr paid the price, leaving the pitch after taking a knock to the head while making a sliding tackle.
Midway through the half new signing Andrew Phillips had Stamford’s best chance of the half when his shot was blocked.
Then Stamford lost Smith to injury, picked up after a sizable collison, replaced by Will Rawdon.
Stamford attacked regulary but failed to make their last ball count. Aaron Hassall sped down the right wing, with a trail of water splashing up in his wake, and crossed a ball in which got a dangerous deflection but went just wide.
The visitors’ opening goal came in first half stoppage time from a corner. The ball was crossed in by Elliott Osbourne to the back post and the unmarked Matt Bailey ran on to it to direct a powerful header into the back of the net.
Stamford, playing without a manager after Andrew Wilson was dismissed last week, came out fired up after the break and Shaun Richards went close with a 25-yard drive just 30 seconds into the second half.
However just a matter of minutes of later Osbourne showed how it should be done from distance, cutting in from the left hand side and curling a right footed shot into the top left corner, with Stamford keeper Richard Knight unable to do anything about it depsite being at full stretch.
Stamford were creating chances but struggling to find the target, Nathan Fox raced up-field from inside his own half and unleashed a blast from distance but it too just went wide of the post.
After that Nantwich began to increasingly dictate the pace of the game, creating some decent chances in the process as they played the ball around the final third of the field looking for an opening.
In the end the goal came on the break with Bettles knocked out on the floor in a heap after Knight collided with his defender with his knees while trying to clear the same ball. It resulted in neither man doing it successfully and Joshua Gordon converting from a couple of feet out.
With five minutes to go Nantwich attacked down the left and Lewis Short beat Knight with a low shot from distance to twist the knife. The win moved Nantwich up to second in the league and Stamford remain in 23rd position, now five points clear of safety after Colywn Bay in 20th place drew 1-1 with Halesowen Town.
Grantham, in 21st, beat Hyde United 2-0 to pull themselves closer towards safety.
Stamford travel to Coalville Town tomorrow night in the Integro Doodson League Cup, kick-off 7.45pm.
Stamford AFC: Richard Knight, Ellis Myles, Nathan Fox, Jon Challinor, Lewis Carr, Dominic McGarr ((Dalton Bettles) Roger Lee), Shawn Richards, Tom McGowan, Andrew Phillips, Jordan Smith (Will Rawdon), Aaron Hassall.
Subsitutes not used: Eddy Samba
Nantwich Town: Krystain Burznksi, Darren Thornton, Jon Moran, Matthew Bailey, Elliot Osbourne, Matthew Kosylo (Joshua Gordon), Sam Hall, Joshua Hancock (Lewis Short), Matthew Bell, Steve Jones (Liam Shotton). Subs Unused: Christopher Smith and Terry Smith.
Referee: Robbie Dadley