Daniels dip into the relegation zone

Stamford AFC lose 1-0 to Curzon Ashton. Photo: Geoff Atton EMN-150325-171413001

Stamford AFC lose 1-0 to Curzon Ashton. Photo: Geoff Atton EMN-150325-171413001

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Stamford AFC are in the relegation zone after losing 2-0 away at Marine on Saturday.

The Daniels conceded a goal either side of the break and were second best for most of the afternoon as they were comfortably beaten by the Evo-Stik NPL strugglers at the Arriva Stadium.

The loss drops Stamford to 21st in the 24 team league which sees four sides go down.

The even worse news is the Daniels, who have 43 points, have also played one game more than the sides they need to catch, namely 20th place Frickley Athletic, who have 44 points, and 19th place Nantwich Town who have 45. Matlock Town in 18th have also played 41 games and are on 45 points meaning they are still potentially catchable but it all makes for a fraught end to the season.

Marine played very well in the first half but Stamford were not at the races, in fact they didn’t manage a shot on target before the break. The closet they got was a Kurtis Revan shot well over the crossbar.

In contrast the hosts were creating chances and eventually finishing them.

Lloyd Ellams had the first sighter, dragging a effort from distance wide. Andy Stevens in the Stamford net had to be alert to an own goal treat shortly after when a long throw-on from Andy Owens was sent goalwards by big Daniels centre back Tom Batchelor.

It took Marine just 15 minutes to torpedo Stamford’s hopes. Owens showed great strength to power through the Stamford defence and fire home from the edge of the area.

The Mariners pushed on after their goal and Stevens was called into action to save a Menagh effort before Ellams fired wide again.

Just before the break a charged down shot by Marine’s Lewis Codling saw the ball fall to Menagh and he cut in and got his shot away again forcing Stevens into a save.

Things got even worse for Stamford just eight minutes into the second half.

The Daniels’ most cultured midfielder Jon Challinor had a moment of madness - he directed a header back to Stevens but Marine midfielder Karl Clair was first to the ball and the Stamford stopper brought him down for one of the more obvious penalties of the season. Stevens was lucky not to have been shown red, but he could do nothing to stop Ellams’ strike from the penalty spot.

With the time ticking away and their status in the Northern Premier League on the line Stamford manager David Staff wrung the changes, swapping defender Lewis Carr for attacking winger Courtney Meade and midfielder Revan for big striker Greg Smith. His changes changed the momentum and finally the Daniels started to impose themselves more.

Batchelor made a good drive high up the park and pulled the ball back to Greg Smith but the new striker missed the target.

Meade, who impressed off the bench on Tuesday last week, drove down the left and into the box to force Marine keeper Matt Cooper into a save but he was a match for the effort.

Challinor, trying to make amends for his back-pass, then fired a free header over the top from close range.

And it was the midfield who came closest to scoring for the Daniels - his low shot beat Cooper but Andy Nicholas was on the goal line to clear the danger.

In the closing moments both Ellams and Menagh had further chances for Marine as Stamford committed forward in search of something out of the game.

However as has been the case far too often this season it was too little too late.

The Daniels now have five games left to save themselves starting with fourth place Ashton United at the Zeeco Stadium, where they have still not won in the league yet, on Saturday.

Marine: Matt Cooper, Steve Wainwright, James Short, Liam Willis, James Foley (Carl Peers 86), Andy Nicholas (Cap), Lloyd Ellams, Karl Clair, Andy Owens, Jamie Menagh (Dan Fearnehough 90), Lewis Codling (Tom Owens 81).

Unused subs: Chad Whyte, Josh Welsby (G/K). Cautions: Short.

Stamford: Andrew Stevens, Lewis Carr (Courtney Meade 61), Nathan Fox, Daniel Lawlor, Richard Jones (Cap), Tom Batchelor, Kurtis Revan (Gregg Smith 45), Jon Challinor, Dan Clements, Jordan Smith, Michael Built.

Unused subs: Ryan Clarke, Tom McGowan, Gareth Jelleyman. Cautions: Stevens, Clements.

Referee: Mr Simon Bennett

Attendance: 369