Sports Show Daniels The Way
By Richard Curtis
Daniels boss Graham Drury is confident his new-look side will come good - once he has a full complement of players to select from.
Stamford went down to a 4-1 home defeat against Southern League Premier Division new boys Peterborough Sports in their latest pre-season friendly at the Zeeco Stadium on Saturday.
However, Drury was missing 11 players - Mike Armstrong, Sam Hill, Jack Keeble, Louis Danquah, Tom Siddons, Rob Morgan, Cleveland Taylor, Charlie Ward, Ollie Luto, Cosmos Mathwasa and Tendai Chitiza - due to injuries and holidays for the clash against their near neighbours.
And the Stamford manager felt this the major difference between the two sides as braces from Cameron Johnson and Dion Sembe-Ferris fired Sports to success with James Hicks replying for the hosts.
Drury said: "All credit to Peterborough Sports. They're full of confidence at the minute and I think they've scored four goals per game in pre-season.
"You can see they're quite free-flowing at the moment and they've been together as a unit.
"That was the difference between the two sides. We're put together as 11 individuals and they've got that cohesion and organisation which you need as a team.
"It's just really frustrating for myself, Paul Holden and the coaching staff at the moment because we can't put anything together.
"It's very difficult because at the minute we are very individual and the side is changing far too much in pre-season and there is nothing I can do about that.
"We're just having to play around with things at the moment. I can't get little patterns which is quite frustrating.
"It's a very patchy pre-season which out of our control. You can't help injuries or players going away at this time of year.
"I've never known it so bad though. People wonder why I get 24 players in pre-season - well this is the reason why.
"If not, we wouldn't be playing any pre-season games.
"Unfortunately I've got to make some tough decisions, perhaps after Monday's game at Boston, to reduce the size of the squad, but I don't know if I will be able to if players are injured or away.
"I might have to be cruel to be kind and let it go all the way through.
"I'm afraid I've got to look after the football club and not the individual players this year.
"I'm confident it will all come together though.
"We got to try to get it put together as quickly as possible because I've probably only got one game, against Grantham, where I can put a complete side out.
"It might take us a couple of games to get going so we'll have to muddle through and try and get as many points as we can."
Full-back Callum Westwood and former Daniel Pearson Mwanyongo were the latest additions to the Stamford ranks for Saturday's clash against a Sports side who were rapidly out of the traps.
Maniche Sani could have opened the scoring inside the opening minute when he intercepted a Danny Setchell pass only to over-run the ball as he homed in on Dan Haystead's goal.
Former Deeping talisman Cameron Johnson flashed another effort wide of the far post while desperate defending from Setchell was required to deny Sani another goalscoring opportunity.
The inevitable breakthrough came after just six minutes of the contest as Johnson fizzed home a stunning strike after cutting inside from the left and curling a superb shot into the far top corner of the home net.
The lead was doubled seven minutes later as Sembe-Ferris surged clear of the home back-line before slotting home past the advancing Haystead.
Stamford halved the deficit four minutes later as Liam Adams' brave challenge for a ball into the box saw it fall invitingly for the prolific Hicks to hit home another composed finish.
However, it took Sports just two minutes to restore their two-goal advantage again with Johnson this time lofting a sublime header over Haystead from an acute angle.
The visitors did have the ball in the net for a fourth time before the break, but it was ruled out for a foul on Haystead.
Sports continued on the offensive after the break and Johnson had a great chance to complete his hat-trick only to fire wide from close range after Sembe-Ferris' cross to the back post.
The usually-reliable Hicks then missed a decent opening to score his and Stamford's second goal when persistent play from Adams created the opening only for his fellow frontman to fire over.
Half-time substitute Mwanyongo then curled a sweet strike which was well held by Lewis Moat while Sani headed wide at the other end after finding space at the back post from a corner.
Haystead did well to deny Spencer Weir-Daley at point blank range before ex-Daniels defender Richard Jones put a free header over the Stamford crossbar from a corner.
Haystead again denied the visitors with a smart stop to keep out Josh McCammon's audacious back-heel with Matt Dawson on hand to clear the rebound.
However, the visitors did add to their tally with just six minutes remaining as Sembe-Ferris converted a Weir-Daley cross past replacement goalkeeper Joe Tarris for his second and Sports' fourth goal of the afternoon.