Stamford AFC came agonisingly close to earning an unlikely point away at Evo-Stik NPL leaders Blyth Spartans on Saturday only to be undone late in the match.
The Daniels were involved in another thrilling high-scoring game, losing 4-3 thanks to a hat-trick from Blyth forward Robbie Dale at Croft Park.
Stamford started the match at a serious disadvantage because they were without the suspended trio of skipper Richard Jones, Jordan Smith and Eddie Samba, all absent after getting sent off against Ashton United last month. They were also without young attacker Jordan Neil, who picked up a knee injury in midweek, and centre back Tom Batchelor, who left the club for Lincoln United in the week. The result was new signing Will Rawdon, in from Spalding United, came straight in at left back and manager David Staff and assistant manager Rob Gould were both named on the bench and came on towards the end of the match.
Blyth took the lead in the seventh minute when Alex Nicholson powered into the box before beating Stamford stopper Richard Knight.
However just four minutes later Stamford were level after Cameron Powell nutmegged the Blyth keeper after the ball fell to him from a David Bell strike.
And then Ryan Robbins gave the Daniels the lead in the 15th minute. The St Kitts and Nevis international took the ball on the right and darted in-field, resisting the pressure from the Spartans’ defence to fire back Adam McHugh.
So once again Stamford had a 2-1 lead but like on so many occasions this season they were unable to keep it intact. In fact the hosts levelled the scores just eight minutes later, Dale notching his first of the afternoon from distance.
Spartans began to take control of the game with their increased possession and Knight made a great point blank save to deny Dale. But just before the break Stamford had two great chance to go in with a lead. Powell was nearly the man to deliver for Stamford again, just failing to connect with a dangerous corner ball from Bell. Then Robbins was up ended when he was bearing down on goal but rather than award a free-kick in a dangerous position, referee Mr Ellis gave the decision the other way and brandished a yellow card for simulation.
The Daniels and Robbins had the first decent chance after break but his strike from a corner was well saved.
A few minutes later Dale was on the scoresheet again to give Blyth the lead, this time converting a ricocheted corner ball.
But Stamford were not done and in the 78th minute Greg Smith scored his fifth of the season, capitalising on a mix-up at the back.
However Dale proved to be the match winner as he chipped the ball over Knight in the 77th minute. It was the striker’s seventh goal of the season, one behind the league’s top scorer Daniel Mitchley of Skelmersdale United.
Stamford host Buxton tomorrow night at the Zeeco Stadium, 7.45pm ko.
Stamford AFC: Richard Knight, Jon Challinor (c), Will Rawdon, Lewis Carr, Dalton Bettles, Nathan Hicks, Dan Clements, Cameron Powell, David Bell, Greg Smith, Ryan Robbins
Substitutes: Andy Hall, David Staff, Rob Gould.
Blyth Spartans: Adam McHugh, Alex Nicholson, Dillon Morse (Danny Parker 50), Jordan Watson, Ryan Hutchinson, Stephen Turnbull, Michael Richardson (Sean Reid 82), Arran Wearmouth, Daniel Maguire, Mathew Wade, Robbie Dale (c).
Substitutes not used: Neal Hooks, Daman Mullen, Thomas McNamee