FOOTBALL: Daniels draw with Diamonds

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Not too long ago Jordan Smith and Nabil Shariff were playing side-by-side for Stamford AFC at the Zeeco Stadium but on Easter Monday the two strikers were on the scoresheet for opposing sides.

The Daniels drew their final Evo-Stik NPL First Division South home game of the season 1-1 with local rivals AFC Rushden and Diamonds in front of a big crowd of 632.

On the stroke of half time Shariff got his head to a corner and flicked the ball onto the unsighted Jordan Smith, who unfortunately for the home side deflected the ball into his own net.

However the Stamford skipper made amends when he levelled the scores in the 80th minute to see the points shared.

AFC Rushden and Diamonds have had much the better season and if they can beat Carlton Town in their final game of the season on Saturday, will secure a place in the play offs. A place Stamford expected to hold as optimism filled the Zeeco before the season kicked-off. That has long since gone, but with relegation avoided Stamford will reflect on a history making season which was all about their run in the FA Cup.

On Monday it was the visitors who almost opened the scoring in the opening moments of the game, Ben Farrell squaring the ball to Shariff who mishit it, allowing goalkeeper Sam Donkin to save the shot with an athletic dive.

It was another former Daniels man who had the next chance for Diamonds, Shariff made ground down the wing before feeding Shawn Richards at the near post but the striker fired over.

Jack Duffy was looking lively for Stamford and saw a shot go wide of the goal as he led his side back into the match. However a late corner, just before the interval saw the visitors take the lead.

The Daniels did well early in the second half with Jon Challinor’s willness to chase down lost causes earning him a chance on goal, blocked, before Laurie Wilson whipped in a corner to a congested box which almost went in at the back post where Grant Ryan was backing into goalkeeper Matt Finlay, unbelievably another former Stamford man, earning the visitors a free kick.

For most of the match Smith looked Stamford’s most likely source of a goal and he shot wide from just outside the box. Weak shots from distance were the order of the day for both sides as they both created half chances which brought with them little threat.

However in the 81st minute substitute John King beat two markers on the outside, including former Daniel Ollie Brown-Hill to cross a ball to the near post where Smith leapt to flick the ball inside the back post with his head.

Neither side could find a winner so for the second time this season the sides ended level.

The Daniels conclude their season away at league leaders Shaw Lane on Saturday, who have effectively won the title but need a point to make it a mathematical certainty.

Stamford AFC: Sam Donkin, Curtis Hartley, Liam Marshall, Mahmoud Juma, Delroy Gordon, Sam Hill, Laurie Wilson (Jamie McGhee), Jake Duffy (Rogan McGeorge), Grant Ryan (John King), Jordan Smith, Jon Challinor. SUBS unused: Chris Hollist and Jack Oldham,

AFC Rushden & Diamonds: Matt Finlay, Callum Westwood, Sam Brown, Brad Harris, Liam Dolman, Ben Farrell, Shawn Richards (Taylor Orosz), Dan Quigley, Tom Lorraine (Jack Bowen), Naboo Shariff, Olly Brown-Hill. SUBS unused: Kyal McNulty, Ross Oulton and Ben Heath.

Referee: Kevin Saunby

Attendance: 632