Saturday, 15 October 2016

STAMFORD AFC (The Zeeco Stadium)


Continuing the Welsh theme of the past few weeks, today I headed across to Lincolnshire where Northern Premier League Division One South side Stamford were hoping to cause an FA Cup shock by knocking out Conference giants Wrexham.

Stamford have never reached the first round proper in their history, whilst Wrexham have had their giantkilling moments in the distant past.

My visit came almost four years to the day since I last visited Stamford. The Daniels were then playing at Kettering Road which was their home from 1896 until December 2014, when they moved to a brand new purpose built ground, Borderville Sports Complex, known as the Zeeco Stadium in a sponsorship agreement.

The ground is everything you would expect of a smart new stadium, with a seated stand along one touchline and a terraced stand behind one of the goals. The ground is exposed down one side, with a grass bank offering perfect views of the pitch. Security patrolled said bank to ensure nobody was watching for free!

It had been a turbulent build up to the game for The Dragons as manger Gary Mills was sacked on Thursday after a poor run of results, losing four of their last six games. It all added to the potential banana skin that was facing Wrexham this afternoon.

The odds though were clearly against Stamford but their three wins at home have come in cup competitions, including two in the FA Cup. To reach this round the Daniels have beaten Sleaford Town, St Neots Town, Gresley and AFC Mansfield. They nearly pulled off the shock.

I travelled across with a Wrexham supporting mate of mine and he was telling me how bad Wrexham have been this season. At this moment in time he reckons staying up will be success. I was a little taken aback by that that comment but having seen them today I now understand where he is coming from.

A Zeeco Stadium record crowd of 1,264 watched The Dragons start brightly and take the lead after 5 minutes when Shaun Harrod fired home from six yards after Martin Riley had headed down a deep cross.

Wrexham tried to play football but there was no end product and they couldn't find the killer pass. Stamford in truth offered little in attack and the first half drifted to it's conclusion with only the one goal difference.

Stamford made a tactical substitution at the break and it turned the game on its head. Ryan Robbins came on to play alongside Jevani Brown and the pair caused the Wrexham backline all sorts of problems.

Robbins had a glorious chance to level the match when he went through one-on-one but he could not beat Shwan Jalal in the Wrexham goal. It wasn't long before The Daniels were level though when Brown was fouled in the area and Lee Beeson (58) fired home the resulting penalty.

After that Stamford created enough chances to have gone on and won the game, especially with another one-one-one chance which was squandered, this time, by Brown. 

Wrexham will be relived to have another chance at The Racecourse on Tuesday. Stamford may feel this was an opportunity missed.

1 comment:

  1. It shows what I know! Missed opportunity my a***! Stamford won the replay 3-2 and made history in the process, by reaching the 1st round proper for the first time in their history. They are now rewarded with a trip up the A1 to Hartlepool.