Stamford AFC claimed back-to-back Lincolnshire Senior Trophy titles with a 3-0 win over Louth Town tonight (Tuesday).
The Daniels forgot their relegation worries in the Evo-Stik NPL for a night as they beat their plucky lower league opponents.
Stamford have to deal with being over-whelming favourites to lift the title at Lincoln City’s Sincil Bank Stadium and they struggled to break down Town’s well organised defence.
After Ryan Robbins missed a penalty for Stamford he made amends by setting up his striker partner Jordan Smith to open the scoring just before the break.
In the second half the ever impressive Dan Clements added a second for the Daniels before teenage debutant Jordan Neal scored the goal of the night, and one of Stamford’s best this season, using his pace to burn the Louth defence down the wing before cutting inside and dispatching a shot past Scott Drury in the Town net.
Louth played a phyiscal style of football all night as they refused to get bullied by Stamford but shortly before the end it caught up with them as defender Rocky Rawlings was shown red and manager Paul Walden was sent to the stands for his angry reaction.
Clements created the opening chance of the game, spreading it wide to Robbins, who stumbled but recovered and then cut in and beat four defenders to get his shot off. It looked like a weak effort but still it required a diving low save from Drury.
Louth were flying into the tackles and Stamford keeper Andy Stevens and midfielder Jon Challinor were on the wrong end of some physical challenges. And Louth’s Frazer Chapman was soon shown a yellow when he clattered Challinor.
Stamford had a lot of time on the ball which they will not enjoy on Saturday against Evo-Stik NPL league leaders FC United of Manchester but in the early stages they were over-eager to find a killer ball.
Challinor took down a beautiful cross-field ball and fashioned a shot but there were a lot of white shirts in his way and it was charged down. Louth wisely were putting a lot of men behind the ball and hitting on the break and it was from one such attack they fashioned their best chance of the first half, Steven Norton was played in and beat the Stamford marker for pace before flashing a shot across the face of the goal.
Nathan Fox then fired a dangerous cross into the box but nothing came of it and then Clements cut in from the right before he blazed an off=balance left footed shot high over the bar.
Louth were causing problems on the break and striker Chapman had a distance shot blocked as the game open up a little. At the other end Dan Lawlor tried his luck from distance after a pull back from Clements but it was blocked with relative ease by the white wall.
But after half an hour Louth looked to be in trouble when Andy Rowlings brought down Stamford’s Jordan Smith in the box and referee Mr Wilson pointed straight to the spot. However the Daniel’s top scorer Robbins casually smashed the ball against the crossbar in a huge let off for the lower league side.
Smith and Robbins finally showed some attacking coherence but the final pass was just too strong for the St Kitts and Nevis international to get to before the on-rushing Drury.
It turned out the attack was just a prelude to what was to come. This time Robbins was creator, driving into the box and pulling the ball back across the box. Challinor failed to connect with it but Jordan Smith made no mistake, smashing the ball high into the net in the 41st minute.
After the break Fox had the first effort at the goal, clipping the wall with a free-kick.
Frazer Chapman was lucky to stay on the pitch for Louth, he was carded in the first half and left Clements, who was just two quick for him, in a heap. He was given a stern talking to but a second yellow never appeared.
Stamford’s Jordan Smith really should have scored his second of the night ten minutes into the second half, Robbins shaped a beautiful pass into his path and Smith tried to hit it first time but hooked it horribly over the bar.
With Town tiring Fox stretched his legs and drove a cross to Smith in the box but his first time shot was excellently saved at point blank range by Drury.
But while it remained 1-0 Louth were still in the game and Chapman had a chance to level it when a lucky deflection fell in his path but Stamford skipper Richard Jones got back to make a vital block. But the danger was not fully cleared and substitute Lee Croft fired a shot into the box which could have gone anywhere, as it was it was cleared to safety.
As has been the case on several occasions in recent weeks Clements was the man to deliver for Stamford, this time with their second of the night, a skidding shot from 25 yards in the 75th minute. If you were being critical Drury in the Louth net should have kept it out but all he could do was get a weak hand on it.
Just moments later Clements had a golden chance to get his second of the night. He put on the after burners and raced clear but tried the elaborate chip, and on this occasion he over cooked it.
The came the icing on the cake. Just minutes after coming on for a cameo role 18-year-old Neal, who has been impressing in a struggling Uppingham Town side in the PDFL Premier Division, scored a goal to remember.
There was time for tempers to fray after the third goal but little more as the final whistle soon sounded and Jones lifted the county trophy once again.
Stamford AFC: 1 Andy Stevens, 2 Ryan Clarke, 3 Nathan Fox, 4 Tom McGowen, 5 Richard Jones (c), 6 Lewis Carr, 7 Dan Clements, 8 Dan Lawlor, 9 Challinor, 10 Jordan Smith, 11 Ryan Robbins.
12 Jordan Neal, 14 Gareth Jellyman, Dalton Beatles, 16 David Staff, 17 Rob Gould
Manager: David Staff
Louth Town: 1 Scott Drury, 2 Andy Rowlings, 3 Rocky Rawlings, 4 Danny Stevens, 5 Carl Martin (c), 6 Callum Hyland, 7 Steven Norton, 8 Frazer Chapman, 9 Jamie Chapman, 10 Danny Kilmore, 11 Jordan Smith
12 Bobby MacSadden, 13 Robbie Aldrich, 14 Lee Croft, 15 Paul Coulam. 16 Craig Lill
Manager: Paul Walden
Official man of the match: Nathan Fox