Daniels Suffer Cup Heartbreak
Ten-man Stamford suffered injury-time heartbreak as a last-gasp goal sent them tumbling out of this season's FA Cup after a 4-3 defeat in Tuesday night's pulsating preliminary round replay at Peterborough Sports.
Having battled back from conceding two goals inside the opening 14 minutes and defying the controversial dismissal of centre-back Chris Salt for an alleged stamp, Stamford took a 3-2 lead with just seven minutes of the match remaining.
However, Sports struck a leveller in the 90th minute as Avelino Vieira completed his hat-trick before ex-Daniel Josh Moreman delivered the knock-out blow with the winner in the fourth minute of injury-time.
Stamford manager Graham Drury, although disappointed at being beaten, refused to be downbeat after a cracking cup tie and piled praise on the efforts of his players.
He said: "It was a great game of football and a fantastic advert for the game.
"I've got nothing but admiration for both sets of players and Peterborough Sports deserve the congratulations for going through.
"We made some bad decisions for their first two goals and they started really well. We didn't get settled at all.
"But we showed great character to come back into the game and my players gave it absolutely everything they had. They put a real shift in with 10 men.
"Chris is adament that he hasn't touched their player. I trust what my players tell me and there is no reason for him to say otherwise.
"He felt the referee was looking the other way and, if there is a video available of the incident, then we will appeal it."
Stamford made just one change to the side that had drawn 4-4 with Cleethorpes at the weekend with Jon Challinor coming in for Taron Hare.
However, they no answer to a stunning start from Sports who came flying out of the traps in front of a record crowd at the Bee Arena.
After Mark Jones had narrowly failed to connect with a Lewis Hilliard cross when well placed, they broke the deadlock after nine minutes.
A free-kick into the Stamford box saw Jones cushion the ball into the unmarked Vieira's path and he tapped home at the far post.
Dan Haystead was then forced into a fine save to deny Vieira a second shortly after as the livewire Sports attacker burst clear.
But the hosts didn't have to wait much longer to double their lead as Jones again linked up with Vieira to net Sports' second after 14 minutes.
Haystead again did well to deny a fierce strike from Moreman on what looked like being a long night for the Daniels rearguard.
However, to their immense credit, they rallied the troops and pulled a goal back after 33 minutes when Jake Duffy's free-kick was flicked on by Jordon Cooke and Rob Morgan headed home at the far post.
The goal lifted the Daniels and Reece Morris saw a well-struck effort blocked by Stuart Wall while home goalkeeper Lewis Moat was alert to turn away a shot from Salt who found himself through on goal.
The visitors' enterprise was then rewarded with an equaliser five minutes before half-time when a tidy move involving Challinor and Eliot Putman teed up Joe Burgess who thumped home another sizzling strike from outside the box.
The interval came at the right time for Sports who regrouped at the break and went close early in the second period with Jones just failing to get on the end of a low cross from Moreman.
Half-time substitute Jordan Smith fizzed a shot just over as Stamford responded before being reduced to 10 men after 57 minutes.
Salt was pulled up for a foul on Jones on the halfway line with referee Paul Burnham then deciding that the Daniels defender had stamped on the home frontman in the aftermath.
The decision seemed harsh in light of the few appeals from the home players while Jones was quickly back to his feet and causing problems again for the Daniels defence.
The dismissal did galvanise Stamford though and Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson tested Moat with a smart turn and shot.
They then took the lead for the first time in the match with seven minutes remaining as substitute Liam Adams' searing run down the right saw his cross tipped into the path of Putman who rifled home.
Sports sent on towering ex-Daniels defender Paul Malone to boost their attacking artillery and he teed up their 90th minute equaliser by heading a Mitch Griffiths centre onto the crossbar with the alert Vieira first to react and fire home the rebound.
Adams saw another effort deflected wide after a fine individual run before the cracking cup clash produced one more final twist in the fourth minute of injury-time.
Moreman surged forward and then drilled home the winning goal into the bottom corner of Haystead's net to earn a first qualifying round trip to Basildon on Saturday.
Boss Drury added: "It was frustrating to concede two goals so late on, but both teams deserve a lot of credit for what has been produced.
"I thought Vieira was unplayable. I've seen him in the past where he's missed a lot of chances, but everything that fell for him went in. He was class and was perhaps the difference in the game.
"It could have gone the wrong way after we went 2-0 down, but we changed the shape and had a real go. In the end we just ran out of legs though."