Stamford AFC come back from the dead to beat Witton Albion and avoid relegation

Stamford AFC celebrate beating Witton Albion on  the final day of the season to avoid relegation. Photo: John Evely EMN-150425-180629001
Stamford AFC celebrate beating Witton Albion on the final day of the season to avoid relegation. Photo: John Evely EMN-150425-180629001
1
Have your say

What a dramatic and entertaining way to end a football season. If it is was a movie you would question the plausibility of the plot-line, but today (April 25) Stamford AFC pulled off a footballing miracle to stay in the Evo-Stick Northern Premier Division.

The mathematics of it all were simple, beat Witton Albion and Stamford would avoid the drop and swap places in the bottom four with the visitors to the Zeeco Stadium.

Stamford AFC celebrate beating Witton Albion on  the final day of the season to avoid relegation. Photo: John Evely EMN-150425-180617001

Stamford AFC celebrate beating Witton Albion on the final day of the season to avoid relegation. Photo: John Evely EMN-150425-180617001

However the Daniels got off to the worst possible start imaginable and were 2-0 down at the break after Sam Barnes scored a header from a corner and then Alex Titchiner found the back of the net on his second attempt following a brilliant point blank save from Andy Stevens in the Stamford net.

Stamford’s players trudged off at half time with the ring of boos coming from the some of the 752 in the crowd.

Before the game Daniels manager David Staff had said his side were in need of another Ricky Miller, the striker who sent Stamford up to the NPL with a play-off winning goal in 2013. Well they got one.

The comeback started from the penalty spot. Jon Challinor was fouled in the box and Ryan Robbins stepped up to take the set-piece.

There was an air of trepidation around the ground as the St Kitts and Nevis international picked up the ball to take the penalty as he has missed a couple this season, including in the Lincolnshire Senior Trophy just a couple of weeks ago.

However he made no mistake on this occasion and you could see the belief come to life within the Stamford ranks.

They pressed forward and just moments later Robbins almost scored what would have the most spectacular of goals, overhead scissor kicking the ball goalwards but it was deflected for a corner. Robbins was not to be the hero this day.

Like all good underdog stories the match winner was an unlikely one. Midfielder Tom McGowen scored a pair of goals to complete an unbelievable turn around.

Both were scrappy finishes from relatively close range but the significance of the goals is immeasurable.

Witton pushed looked for a goal to get the draw which would have kept them up by Stamford, led once again by the indomitable skipper Richard Jones, cleared the danger to spark wild celebrations at the final whistle.

So Stamford got their first league win at the Zeeco Stadium since moving in December to finish 20th and avoid the drop.

Marine, Witton Albion, Trafford and Belper Town go down.

On days like today it’s hard not to love football.