Ashton Deal Blow To Daniels
Stamford’s struggle at the wrong end of the table looks no easier after play-off chasing Ashton United won 2-0 at the Zeeco Stadium.
Last season’s play-off runners-up almost opened the scoring in the opening seconds, with Martin Pilkington attempting an audacious shot from the centre circle which a back-peddling Andy Stevens did well to tip over for a corner.
After that early scare, Stamford carved out the better opportunities with Jon Challinor driving narrowly past the right upright and Jordan Smith forcing a smart, reflex save at close range from Paul Phillips - both in the opening 10 minutes.
Requiring points to move above fellow strugglers Frickley, Stamford had to show the initiative to attack but Ashton were quick to push forward and Stamford did not always looking entirely certain at the back.
Smith had a fierce effort blocked after namesake Greg Smith had chested ball down on the edge of the box, and Dan Lawlor drove a 25 yard free kick hard and firm but while his shot carried the power it was right down the throat of the visitors’ keeper.
Late in the half, Greg Smith, who had reacted too slowly to a ball from Challinor between Ashton’s centre backs moments earlier, slid ball into net. But referee Ben Cooke had already blown for an infringement and declared it the end of the half.
Not by any means a rough game, the card tally ticked over steadily with a trio of Ashton players booked for overly firm tackles and Benjamin Deegan almost sent off in a case of mistaken identity - thankfully for Ashton realised he hadn’t pervasively booked the number 11 and rescinded the red card which he had initially waved towards the bemused player.
Late in the opening 45, Cooke was content to speak to Tom Batchelor and Sam Wilson when the pair went down in the Stamford area - he wasn’t as lenient in the 56th minute when Gary Gee went to the floor under an innocuous-looking challenge from Stamford’s centre back. Chris Baguley calmed despatched the ball past Stevens.
The goal shook Stamford’s already fragile confidence and Pilkington should have made it two for the visitors soon after, beating Batchelor to ball over to the top and after Stevens had hesitated to come out his box Ashton’s number 10 rounding the keeper only to guide the ball the wrong side of the post.
The visitors did not have to wait long to extend their lead however and after neat exchange of passes Dale Johnson buried number two and a difficult task for the Daniels become a mountain to climb.
Stamford pushed forward, leaving themselves more exposed at the back but their best chances of the half all came from set pieces. Nathan Fox whipped in a string of dangerous balls from corners and free kicks but Ashton’s defence remained tight throughout.
Substitute Dan Clements fired a late shot direct at Phillips for Stamford but it was the Manchester side that looked most threatening.
Stamford: Andy Stevens, Ryan Clarke (Kurtis Revan), Nathan Fox, Tom Mcgowan, Richard Jones (c), Tom Batchelor, Dan Lawlor (Michael Built), Jon Challinor, Greg Smith (Dan Clements), Jordan Smith, Courtney Meade. Subs not used: Gareth Jelleyman, Lewis Carr
Ashton United: Paul Phillips, Steven Mason, Sam Wilson, Jason Garton (c), Jack Higgins, Gary Gee, Keith Briggs (Kayde Coppin), Chris Baguley, Dale Johnson, Martin Pilkington (Lee Rick), Benjamin Deegan (Ashley Young). Subs: Martin Hill, Greg Pearson.
Daniels man of the match (Sponsored by Grainstore Brewery): Nathan Fox