Stamford AFC played some of the best football of the season on Tuesday night but that did not stop them getting knocked out of the Doodson League Cup by lower league opposition.
Evo-Stik First Division South side Carlton Town, who were also responsible for the Daniels exit from the FA Trophy earlier this season, won 3-1 at the Zeeco Stadium in the third round of the cup competition.
A pair of second half wonder goals and some sloppy defending did the damage.
Chris Bacon had the first chance of the match for Stamford and really he should have done better. The number nine got on the shoulder of his defender and had too much pace - there was only going to be one winner in the foot race when the ball was nicely chipped over, but he drifted just wide and his shot, with Chris Hamilton busting a gut to get there in support, hit the side netting.
There is no harm in taking those shots on but you have to test the keeper. Which is what Jordan Smith did moments later. In a gorgeous double switch move Lee Beeson spread the ball 50 yards across the pitch to Jack Wightwick, who in turn found Hamilton. With one touch the Scotsman played it in to Smith to strike from 15 yards out first time. In the end it was well saved but a good move nonetheless and some neat fluid football which has the visitors in trouble at the back.
Carlton replied with a snap shot on the break, but Jonathan Hedge in the Daniels’ goal had a read on it.
Wightwick was close then to scoring a dream goal - he took down a glorious 70 yard pass from Beeson with a great touch, but could not get his shot over the keeper.
Carlton were looking on the ropes at that point - there for the taking., A terrible back pass went straight to Bacon and the ball was worked to Smith who unleashed a thunderbolt of a shot - unfortunately for the Daniels it cannoned off the inside of the post and out to safety.
The opening Carlton goal came like a stab in the gut. With their first shot Town scored. A long ball in behind was badly dealt with by the centre backs and striker Josh Rae was on hand to tuck away the loose ball from all of two yards.
Jordan Smith almost made the perfect response but his powerful header was tipped onto the bar and over by goalkeeper Jack Steggles.
Carlton grew in confidence and midfielder Anthony Powell only just put a shot wide of the Stamford upright after some nice build-up play.
Stamford had a late chance to level the score going in but Wightwick pushed a powerful drive to the right of the target.
Three minutes into the second period and Bacon should have put the hosts ahead. Wightwick turned sharply to lose a pair of markers and the ball was pinged into the wide channel by substitute Duffy, into the path of Hamilton. Not for the first time he delivered a gem of a ball for this strikers to attack but Bacon put his header wide.
Stamford didn’t have to wait too long to be on level terms. The ball was crossed in from a free kick and cleared straight up into the air. Giant centre back Paul Malone had too much space at the back post and nodded home without even having to even jump.
After a lag in play Stamford carved open Carlton with ease, releasing Bacon, but he seemed hesitant to shoot and the chance fizzled out.
Carlton’s Daniel Fletcher was not so hesitant to shoot and with good reason because in the 66th minute he unleashed a dipping swerving effort from 25 yards which beat Hedge at the near post and gave the lower league visitors the lead.
Town then put it beyond doubt 11 minutes from time when hooked shot from distance by Daniel Gordon flew into the net, again at Hedge’s near post.
Stamford’s answer was to try and play their way through like a more technical side from a higher league should. Only this team don’t have the skill to play through a compact side putting everyone behind the ball and the sad reality for everyone at the club is they will likely be dropping down a league come the end of the season.
Carlton will be licking their lips after two wins from two games against Stamford this season - that’s if they can stay up themselves.
Stamford AFC: Jonathan Hodge, Lee Beeson, Lewis Jackson, Paul Malone, Tom Batchelor (c), Sam Hill, Chris Hamilton, James Jepson, Chris Bacon, Jordan Smith, Jack Wightwick.
Substitutes: Jake Duffy, Jordan Neal, Tom McGowan.
Carlton Town: Jack Steggles, Mathew Newton, Daniel Fletcher, Tom McConway, Kieran Walker, Jacob Sturgess, Romello Nangle, Anthony Howell, Romaine Graham, Joe Rae, Daniel Gordon.
Substitutes: Elliot Hodgett-Young, Jake Wholey, Kevin Lusamba.
Referee: Mr Akil Howson