Daniels draw at Rushall Olympic to move up the tight table

Stamford AFC lose their must win match against Marine. Photo: John Evely
Stamford AFC lose their must win match against Marine. Photo: John Evely

It is so tight at the bottom of the Evo-Stik NPL a single point can make a significant difference to your standing in the table - and so it proved for Stamford AFC last night (Tuesday) who moved from 19th up to 17th with a 0-0 draw away at Rushall Olympic.

Despite their two place leap up the bottom half of the table the Daniels are still hovering just two points above the relegation zone.

In fact just two points separate 16th place Matlock Town and 21st place Frickley Athletic.

In the 24 team league four teams will face the drop and it looks like the writing is on the wall for the current bottom three. Belper Town are bottom with just 22 points, Trafford are in 23rd with 25 points and Marine are 22nd with 32 points. There are still as many as 27 points available for those bottom sides with nine games remaining so they are far from mathematically doomed but it would require a significant change in fortunes.

A similar change in fortunes would not go amiss at Stamford either who moved upped the league more thanks to the results of the other teams around them in the dog-fight rather than their own efforts,

On Tuesday 19th place Witton Albion lost 1-0 at home to King’s Lynn Town, Frickley drew 1-1 at home to Halesowen Town. Ramsbottom United, who sit 20th but have five games in hand on Stamford, squandered a chance of moving away from the drop zone scrap when they drew 1-1 away at Buxton.

At Rushall on Tuesday Stamford started well and had the first significant chance of the match. Ryan Robbins, the league’s joint-second top-scorer with 19, powered into the box but his prodded effort was well off target.

The match was the striker’s last for a couple of weeks as he now jets off for international duty with St Kitts and Nevis as the small Caribbean island attempt to qualify for the World Cup.

Pics were beginning to dictate the pace of the game and following a couple of decent chances Daniels’ stopper Andy Stevens had to be at his athletic best to push a powerful drive from Jack Duggan around the post.

Rushall’s Mitchell Tolley hit a shot which looked to be heading into the top corner of the net but Stamford skipper Richard Jones, back from serving a three match suspension, deflected the dangerous effort wide.

After the break the Stamford goal remained under pressure and Stevens was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers.

But the Daniels had a chance to snatch the lead from a set-piece. Dan Lawlor delivered a good ball from a corner and Jones stabbed the ball goalwards however Olympic keeper Ryan Price had the measure of it.

At the other end of the field a slip from Stamford’s centre back Tom Batchelor opened the way for Alex Reid to bear down on goal but Stevens came to Stamford’s rescue once again.

In stoppage time Stamford had two glorious chances to snatch the win. First substitute Ryan Clarke missed the target from 18 yards before young Courtney Meade fired over. There was one last moment of danger from Rushall when Reid struck a volley but as was the case far too often for both sides the effort drifted wide.

Rushall Olympic: Price, Christophorou, Leslie, Tolley (Austin 70) , Duggan, Caines, Heath, Taylor, Williams, Reid

Subs not used: Williams, Roberts, Sinton, Craddock

Stamford: Stevens, Carr, Fox, McGowan, Jones, Bachelor, Lawlor, Challinor, Fitzgerald (Clarke 48), Smith, Robbins (Meade 90)

Subs not used: Clements, Staff, Bettles

Attendance: 151