Daniels Edge Out Brighouse
Manager Graham Drury declared Stamford's 3-2 home success over Brighouse on Saturday as their most important win of the season so far.
After back-to-back Evo-Stik League Division One East defeats, Stamford returned to winning ways with a hard-fought success against a visiting side who started proceedings in third place.
Three goals in the opening period laid the foundations for the success as Stamford staved off a nervy finale to gain the three points in a match which saw both sides finish the contest with 10 men.
Drury said: "We've got a starting point again which is what we needed.
"The confidence looked low and you could see it at times in the performance.
"But no matter hook or crook, how we played, we needed a win.
"It's not one of the best performances of the season, but it's perhaps the biggest win of the season.
"I didn't care how we won that game, it's all about having a start point again for this football club.
"It's been a bit doom and gloom with player movement going on here and there which is frustrating for me.
"But if the players have been part of the problem, they've got to part of the solution as well.
"If they don't want to be part of the solution they are no good to us.
"We ended up with eight men out there at the end against a very good side.
"Chris Salt has probably broken his nose and Ollie Brown-Hill got a dead leg in one leg and a tight hamstring in the other.
"I think they were the best side we've played this season.
"They reminded me of Alvechurch from last season. The midfield rotate into areas and they're hard to find.
"They've got the option of the Plan B with Aaron Martin who is very physical and Chris' nose proves that.
"Whoever finishes above them will definitely make the play-offs. They were as good as Morpeth and Marske in my eyes and certainly better than Ossett.
"The run we've had we've lost to the top three by the odd goal so I've said to the players that we're not a million miles off.
"But we had to be able to go and walk into the bar tonight with our heads held high and I think we've put a shift in.
"It wasn't about the performance. It was about a team effort, work-rate and commitment and I felt I got that from the players."
Drury was again forced to ring the changes with Sam Vince returning in goal due to the unavailability of Dan Haystead while Stan Mugisha was missing through injury.
New signings Kern Miller and Grant Ryan went straight into the starting line-up on their returns to the Stamford ranks.
Miller came into the centre of defence which allowed Josh Egginton to move out to left-back following the departure of Eliot Putman to higher level Barwell.
The hosts, like their last home outing against Spalding, again made a flying start and took a third minute lead.
Vince's pinpoint clearance picked out Ryan who cushioned the ball into the path of Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson who shrugged off his marker before firing home into the bottom corner.
The lead was then doubled 10 minutes later when Jake Duffy fired in a corner which was turned home by centre-back Salt.
Brighouse's woes then continued midway through the first half when Iwan Heeley was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Jon Challinor.
However, they did halve the deficit six minutes later when Thomas Haigh hit a fine finish into the roof of the home net.
But it only took Stamford 10 minutes to restore their two-goal advantage when Joe Burgess was brought down in the box and Ryan converted the resultant spot kick with aplomb.
Reece Morris then saw an effort blocked on the line by Ellis Nicholls as Stamford finished the first half in the ascendency.
However, the tables were turned at the start of the second period as Brighouse began brightly.
It needed a superb double save from Vince to preserve Stamford's two-goal lead as he first denied substitute Gabriel Johnson before reacting immediately to keep out Jack Normanton's follow-up.
The visitors did reduce the deficit with 20 minutes remaining when Martin headed home a Mohammed Ibrahim cross.
Stamford were then reduced to 10 men themselves when substitute Mike Armstrong was shown a red card for a late tackle on Haigh with 18 minutes remaining.
That created a tense finish for the home side which saw Vince deny Martin before a sensational late save to turn away Rhys Jenkinson's shot that was destined for the top corner and secure a victory that leaves Stamford in seventh spot just a point outside the play-off places.