Seal Strike Sinks Steels
Ryan Seal's second goal in three games secured a hard-fought Evo-Stik League Division One East victory for Stamford over visiting Stocksbridge Park Steels on Saturday.
Seal's strike midway through the first half settled a scrappy contest which netted a second successive home victory for the Daniels.
It was also their third clean sheet from the last four league games as they bounced back from the departure of centre-back Henry Eze earlier this week.
Eze became the seventh Stamford player to move to a higher level club this season and manager Graham Drury admitted it would take time for his side to gel again.
He said: "We've played far better and lost games this season and I'll take the next three matches like that as well if I have to.
"Nobody will remember the performance in three or four weeks time, but the three points was the most important thing.
"It was a scrappy game, but a good goal won it. It was clever play by Ollie Brown-Hill to put Ryan through and it was a great finish.
"We've had a hard week with Henry going. It rocked us, but the only way to reply to that is by keeping a clean sheet.
"Both sides lacked a bit of quality at times and it was a scrappy performance, but sometimes when you're nowhere near your best you have fight and scrap to get the win.
"We looked a bit disjointed because we're having to try new things all the time.
"You don't put a jigsaw together until you've studied it and I'm afraid I'm at the studying stage again at the minute.
"We've now got to try and build confidence.
"I thought in the first half we found some nice little building blocks. We played it out from the back quite well.
"It was always going to be nip and tuck in the second half. We needed that second goal.
"We had a few opportunities, but nothing really clear-cut. The final ball maybe just wasn't right or we over-elaborated a bit.
"But it's three points which I'm pleased we've got on the board."
The Daniels made four changes to the side that had lost 1-0 away at Loughborough Dynamo last weekend.
Joe Burgess returned to the Stamford ranks after unavailability ruled him out last Saturday while there were first starts for Jake Sansby and Christian Eneremadu with Brown-Hill getting the nod in attack.
Brown-Hill made a lively start to the opening half as he first drew a foul from Reece Fielding which resulted in an early booking for the Stocksbridge defender.
He then broke the Stocksbridge offside trap only to see his well-struck shot brilliantly blocked by the recovering Liam McFadyen.
Seal sent an opportunist effort over the Stocksbridge crossbar after intercepting a weak clearance from visiting goalkeeper Edward Hall.
Tyler Williams offered Stocksbridge's strongest threat in the first half and he saw a dangerous cross crucially intercepted by Burgess before whipping in another centre that evaded a posse of attackers.
Scott Ruthven then hooked an effort over from close range before Stamford broke the deadlock after 22 minutes.
Brown-Hill's sublime through ball set Seal free and he smashed his shot past the advancing Hall.
Ruthven and Todd Jordan both went close to converting a dangerous centre from George Grayson who then rattled the home upright after a marauding run and shot.
Stamford then had a let-off when goalkeeper Dan Haystead failed to control a back pass as the ball ran through and, fortunately for the Daniels, past the post.
Eneremadu curled an effort at Hall after a fine pass from Seal found the Stamford winger in space to beat his full-back and shoot as the Daniels finished the opening period ahead.
Stocksbridge created a couple of half-chances at the start of the second half as Jordan turned an Alex Wiles free-kick narrowly past the post.
Jordan then rose highest to meet a corner, but his free header was wide of the mark.
Stamford responded with Brown-Hill setting away Joe Boachie whose strong run and cross was fired wide by Eneremadu.
A brave header from Boachie following Seal's free-kick was inches over before another strong surge from the Stamford front man brought Hall into action as he palmed away a stinging shot.
Substitute Liam Adams curled another long distance shot over before a dipping effort from Brodie Litchfield at the other end went past the home crossbar.
Stocksbridge pushed more men forward as time ticked on but, despite a couple of late scrambles in the Stamford box, Haystead wasn't called into serious action as the Daniels held out for a solid success.