Challinor Strike Secures Cup Progress
Stamford netted a terrific FA Trophy giantkilling as they produced a super showing to stun higher level Kettering Town at the Zeeco Stadium on Saturday.
Jon Challinor's first half strike proved the difference between the two sides as the Daniels defeated a Poppies side who were unbeaten on their travels at the level above their hosts.
Challinor is a former Kettering player who etched his name in Poppies folklore after scoring the final-ever goal at their Rockingham Road ground.
He netted in the 3-1 home success over Southport on the final day of the Conference season in 2010-11.
But it was his solitary strike for Stamford on Saturday that helped wilt a Poppies team who struggled to make an impression on the defiant Daniels.
A fine penalty save 10 minutes from time from goalkeeper Dan Haystead was their only real opening of a closely-fought contest which was well-managed by the Daniels players in front of a bumper Stamford crowd.
With the returning Henry Eze striking up an instant rapport with man-of-the-match Chris Salt at the heart of the Daniels defence, the free-scoring Poppies were kept in check with solid showings from full-backs Jordon Cooke and Josh Egginton strengthening Stamford's resolve.
Their midfield was as busy and industrious as ever to limit the openings for the visitors while Liam Adams ploughed a lone furrow up front with his boundless enthusiasm and work-rate causing plenty of concern for the Kettering rearguard despite gaining scant reward for his excellent efforts.
The early openings were even after the torrential rain had moved away with Kettering's Dan Holman and Stamford's Ryan Seal both firing efforts wide of the respective goals.
Challinor sent a dipping effort just over while Salt produced a crucial block as Lindon Meikle looked to release Rhys Hoenes.
Adams tried his luck unsuccessfully from distance before Kettering custodian Paul White made the best save of the first half when he turned a low strike from Jake Duffy around the post.
Stamford grew in belief more as the half wore on and they took a deserved 27th minute lead.
An astute pass from Seal picked out Challinor in space in the penalty area and he drilled home the opening goal via a slight deflection which took the ball further out of White's reach.
Kettering enjoyed their best spell in the final 15 minutes of the first half, but Haystead was only called into making routine stops to thwart Michael Richens twice such was Stamford's defensive discipline.
Meikle and Marcus Kelly were also reduced to shooting wide from distance as Stamford maintained their lead with minimal fuss until half-time.
Kettering again enjoyed the lions share of possession after the break, but they could find no way through the Stamford rearguard.
Hoenes had a shot deflected wide at the back post after a corner had flashed across the box before the Poppies were handed what looked like being an 80th minute lifeline.
Substitute Andrea Borg was pushed over by Joe Burgess as he burst in the box.
But Haystead came to Stamford's rescue with a super save low to his left to keep out Brett Solkhon's spot kick.
That save seemed to drain the life out Kettering's attacks and Stamford looked the more likely to add to their tally on the break in the latter stages.
Despite having manager Graham Drury sent from the dug-out in the dying throes, Stamford stayed in control of their own destiny.
They safely saw out the final four minutes of injury-time to earn another memorable cup scalp for the club.