Daniels Secure Vital Win
Stamford reignited their Evo-Stik League Division One East campaign with a battling 2-0 home success over AFC Mansfield at the Zeeco Stadium on Saturday.
Two first half strikes from Ryan Seal and Isia Marselia - his first for the club - gave the Daniels their first league win since the beginning of October. They also had to soldier on for the majority of the second half with 10 men following the harsh dismissal of skipper Jake Duffy after an innocuous collision with Bulls frontman Joe Iaciofanu.
And, despite a torrential downpour in the second period in addition to the strong swirling wind throughout the game, Stamford dug in to grind out a vital victory. They welcomed back Joe Burgess to their starting line-up after he missed last Saturday's goalless home draw with Pickering due to suspension. New signing Jake Sansby started on the substitutes bench against a bottom-of-the-table AFC Mansfield side who included ex-Stamford striker Grant Ryan in their ranks.
The Daniels had the fierce wind in their favour in the opening period, but it was home goalkeeper Dan Haystead who had to be alert first to race off his line and block an effort from Iaciofanu who had burst into the box.
Bulls custodian Tom Crosby then safely gathered efforts from a Jake Duffy free-kick and Marselia's sharp turn and shot. Mike Armstrong was then forced into a smart covering tackle to deny the lively Iaciofanu before the Daniels broke the deadlock after 23 minutes.
A well-placed through ball from Joe Boachie set Seal free and he slotted home into the bottom corner past the advancing Crosby. The visitors then had a great chance to equalise when Jack Broadhead rose highest to meet a corner, but he planted his free header wide of the Stamford goal.
And the Daniels took the full advantage to double the lead after 32 minutes when Boachie and Seal again combined well with some good link-up play. Seal saw his initial effort blocked by Crosby, but Marselia was alert to react first to the rebound and smash home Stamford's second goal.
The Daniels were now full of confidence and it was then the turn of Seal to set Boachie free but, with just Crosby to beat, he rattled the post. Seal then set a curling effort just wide as Stamford finished the opening period in the ascendency.
However, they suffered a setback in the early stages of the second half when Duffy was shown a straight red card. The Stamford skipper tangled with Iaciofanu and, as the Bulls forward tumbled to the ground, Duffy appeared to try and step out of the way of his fall.
However, the minimal contact - Iaciofanu was soon back on his feet - was deemed by referee Kev Saunby to have been a stamp and Duffy was dismissed. This forced Stamford to dig deep to defy both the disadvantage of being a man down and the rapidly deteriorating elements.
The chances in the second period were few and far between for both sides which suited Stamford's two-goal advantage. Ex-Daniel Ryan had the best opening for the Bulls when he found space in the box, but Haystead was more than equal to his effort with a superb finger-tip save.
Marselia sent a well-struck effort over the crossbar before Sansby's astute through ball teed up fellow substitute Jon Challinor who was denied by a smart reaction save from Crosby as Stamford saw out more than five minutes of injury-time to claim a worthy win.