EVO STIK LEAGUE: Heroic Stamford reach the play-off final

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Stamford AFC are one win away from a return to the Evo Stik Premier Division after an heroic play-off performance at Frickley Athletic last night (May 1).

The Daniels won a hard-fought, nail-biting Division One South semi-final 2-1 at Frickley Athletic after scoring twice in a dominant first-half display and then defendeing magnificently after the break as the home side rallied. Stamford played the final stages with 10 men after Kieran Wells - a first-half goalscorers - was dismissed for a poor challenge on the Frickley goalkeeper.

Happy Stamford manager Graham Drury.

Happy Stamford manager Graham Drury.

Stamford now travel to Bedworth United in the play-off final on Saturday (May 5) seeking a return to the top flight after a two-season exile.

Rob Morgan headed the Daniels in front midway through the first half from a Ban George Cross and Wells made it 2-0 from the spot on 34 minutes following a handball offence.

Frickley finished three places and 11 points clear of Stamford in the Division One South final table so the second-half onslaught was predictable.

But Stamford, who boast the best defensive record in the division, defended stubbornly and bravely even after Wells was sent packing 15 minutes from time. Goalkeeper Dan Haystead won the man-of-the-match award for pulling off a string of fine saves while his woodwork was rattled on numerous occasions.

Haystead was finally beaten five minutes into stoppage time, but it was too little too late for the home side.

“Fair play to Frickley they came at us in the second half, but my boys stood tall again,” Stamford manager Graham Drury enthused. “They know what they are doing.”

Bedford finished fourth in the Division One South table, three points clear of Stamford. They beat Chasetown 2-1 in the other semi-final last night.