Impressive Knight earns Stamford AFC victory

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Stamford AFC goalkeeper Richard Knight was the hero of the day on Saturday as he pulled off a series of stunning saves to earn the Daniels a 1-0 victory away at Matlock Town.

Knight, who was voted Daniels player of the month recently, even saved a penalty to keep Stamford’s first clean sheet in the league this season.

Stamford AFC 2015-16. Photo: Geoff Atton EMN-150408-115120001

Stamford AFC 2015-16. Photo: Geoff Atton EMN-150408-115120001

Midfielder Tom McGowan scored the winning goal in the 57th minute to earn new manager Andrew Wilson his first win at the club at his sixth attempt.

The victory moves Stamford up one place in the Evo-Stik NPL to 22nd.

Matlock midfielder Laurie Wilson had the first chance of the afternoon at the Autoworld Arena, lifting a 20-yarder high and wide in the opening seconds, which was soon followed by Ben Algar flicking a header past the post.

Stamford’s first attack came on 14 minutes when Dan Clements failed to reach a cross from the left by Nabil Shariff, but Matlock could easily have gone in front in the 20th minute when Sam Smith planted a free header from a Craig Nelthorpe cross straight at Knight.

Stamford’s only other chance of the half came on 24 minutes, Shariff pulling his shot wide from eighteen yards when he latched on to a Harry Coates clearance.

But ten minutes later, Matlock wasted an even better opportunity as Danny Holland did everything right by nodding down a Micky Harcourt cross to Smith who went for glory from close range, but blasted his shot high over the bar when composure was needed.

Holland then scuffed a Harcourt cross wide when he should probably have burst the net open as Stamford were reprieved once again.

Stamford and another escape when Coates headed a corner against the woodwork in the opening moments of the second half before Knight dived to his right to brilliantly claw away a well controlled Algar volley six minutes later.

That save had more significance when in the 57th minute Tom McGowan stabbed home from six yards after Matlock failed to clear a corner.

McGowan, who only rejoined the club last week having left in the summer, scored two goals on the final day of last season to keep Stamford in the league.

However it looked like it was going to be a short lived lead as Stamford conceded a penalty just a minute later.

Smith attacked down the left and was sent sprawling by Ellis Myles, but Knight dived to his left to keep out a Holland shot that lacked pace and direction.

Matlock substitute Joel Purkiss soon tested Knight with a 25-yard strike but it was again competently and confidently dealt with by the Daniels stopper.

With Matlock throwing players forward in search of a leveller, they were vulnerable to counter attacks, one nearly proving costly but the home keeper George Willis was quick to close down and save from Clements.

But then it was normal service resumed as Knight made another brilliant save, flinging himself to his left to scoop away an Adam Yates header which might have brought an 83rd minute equaliser for the hosts.

Then three minutes later from another corner the ball dropped to Ted Cribley who sliced wide from 15 yards as he shot through a ruck of defenders, before with time running out, a Harcourt header from a free-kick on the left flew over the bar.

Stamford host Halesowen Town on Tuesday night, kick-off 7.45pm.

Stamford AFC: Richard Knight, Ellis Myles, Nathan Fox, Roger Lee, Brad Gascoigne, Lewis Carr, Dan Clements, Tom McGowan, Nabil Shariff, Nathan Hicks, Shaun Richards.

Substitutes: Dominic McGarr, Will Rawdon, Will Ree

Matlock Town: George Willis, Micky Harcourt, Craig Nelthorpe, Laurie Wilson, Adam Yates, Harry Coates, Ted Cribley, Liam Needham, Sam Smith, Danny Holland (c) Ben Algar.

Substitutes: Scott Maxfield, Nicky Travis, Joel Purkiss, Jordan Deacey, Jason Paling.

Referee: Mr Chris Ward

Attendance: 336