Daniels Keep Momentum
A quick-fire second half goal double boosted Stamford's play-off hopes at the expense of their promotion rivals following a 2-0 home success over Lincoln United on Saturday.
A debut strike from John Sands - just 16 minutes after coming on as a substitute - and another scorching strike from Joe Boachie sent Stamford to within three points of the play-off places.
It capped a tremendous 10-point return from their four games over the festive period for a Stamford side who have lost just once in their last seven league matches.
Manager Graham Drury admitted afterwards that he had piled the pressure on his players to perform in a bid to maintain their push for promotion.
He said: "I feel we are starting to get a more balanced squad, but we had to be in the position we're in before Saturday.
"Anything less than where we were, it would have been a struggle for us to push for the top five.
"I put a lot of pressure on the lads to do that. We're trying to up the professionalism around the club and we've changed a few things around behind the scenes.
"All of the bench was capable of upping the standard on Saturday and I'm over the moon with the squad because it's really good now.
"We've now taken four points from two sides who were in the top five.
"We were not getting back-to-back wins, but we finally got that and then we were just a couple of minutes away from getting a third consecutive victory on New Year's Day.
"That was still a good point against an in-form Pontefract side who had won their last six games.
"Lincoln are probably lacking a bit of confidence, but you don't take anything away from our lads.
"We dictated and dominated the first 15 minutes of the game. We got into a bit of scrap from there and we had to regroup at half-time.
"We didn't start the second half very well and we tended to be a little bit uneasy with the ball. We needed to keep better possession.
"The changes we made were pro-active and it was written in the stars for John Sands to score. I knew it was going to happen because it's the way he is.
"I can't take anything away from Ollie Brown-Hill for his part though. He deserves a lot of credit and made a good decision. He's rolled it across and we've got the goal.
"Joe's then hit another worldie which, as I've told everybody, that's what he is about because he will score goals like that.
"He's now put three in like that, but he can't rest on his laurels. He's got a great strike on him, but there's times I'd like him to do it more often.
"I think he's a talent and these players win you games, but you've got to have all elements in a team.
"A special talent can win you the game, but Dan Haystead has made a crucial penalty strike, Mike Armstrong was named man-of-the-match and the work-rate of the midfield four gave us the right balance."
Stamford handed a debut to returning midfielder Rob Morgan while Sands was named on the bench for the first time after being sidelined with a troublesome groin problem.
The Daniels made a stirring start with Isia Marselia curling an early effort over while Jake Duffy volleyed just wide after good link-up play between Morgan and Boachie.
Morgan had another decent shot from a strong run safely gathered by Whites goalkeeper Michael Emery before the hosts had a strong penalty appeals turned down when Boachie went down under a challenge from Sean Wright.
Lincoln though weathered the early storm and grew into the contest as the half wore on while looking particularly threatening from set pieces.
Joe Burgess made a vital headed interception from a corner before an in swinging free-kick from Jonathan Williams saw Matt Wilson's effort rattle the home post.
The Whites were then awarded a 34th penalty when Morgan was adjudged to have fouled Andy Hutchinson.
But Haystead came to Stamford's rescue as he plunged low to his left to turn away the spot kick from ex-Stamford player Matt Cotton.
That turned up the heat in the derby duel with the Whites having three players booked in an opening period that saw five yellow cards.
Lincoln again edged the opening exchanges of the second period which sparked a double Stamford substitution following the introductions of Jon Challinor and Sands which was followed shortly after by Brown-Hill.
And the trio of replacements played crucial roles in Stamford breaking the deadlock after 71 minutes.
Morgan's pass saw Challinor's deft flick release Brown-Hill who, with just Emery to beat, unselfishly squared the ball for Sands to tap home the opening goal which sparked mass celebrations from both player and supporters.
The lead was doubled six minutes later to secure the win as Boachie found space about 20 yards out before curling home an unstoppable shot beyond Emery.
Haystead then had to make another crucial stop to deny a late Lincoln raid to secure his fifth clean sheet in the last seven league games as Stamford's play-off charge begins to gain momentum.