With 6 games of the season left the Stamford Strollers Over 50s B team found themselves in fourth place in the league and 6 points behind leaders Glinton and Northborough. Unfortunately B team regular Mike Edwards was unavailable due to family commitments, fortunately A team regular Iain Ross was available to cover for the loss of Edwards. The full squad for the 2 games was:
First up for Strollers was Hampton, a place above and 3 points ahead of Stamford. Strollers started on the front foot, pressing the opposition high up the pitch, and moving the ball well in possession. An early opportunity fell to Tim Marsden who forced a good save from the Hampton keeper who could only push the ball back out to Marsden who then saw his second shot canon back off the post and away to safety. Stamford continued to press and dominate possession without creating any further clear cut chances. Against the run of play Hampton caught Strollers on the break with a fierce shot from distance which flew into the corner of Stewart Gardner’s goal, with the keeper unsighted. Half time arrived soon after, Strollers 0 Hampton 1.
Stamford started the second half determined to get on level terms, again dominating the ball and pressurising their opponents. It wasn’t long before Iain Ross driving forward from his defensive position unleashed a trademark drive from distance which the keeper could only parry out again to Marsden who this time fired into the roof of the net to make it 1 – 1. Strollers were in full flow now and Ross threaded a straight pass into the path of Paul Archer’s diagonal movement, Archer took a touch and confidently passed the ball into the far corner of the Hampton goal 2 – 1 to Strollers. With Stamford now in full control Ross played a neat one two with Les Woods and fired an unstoppable shot passed the Hampton keeper to give Strollers a 3 – 1 win. Overall one of the best performances of the season, with plenty of chances created and the opposition limited to long range speculative efforts which were comfortably coped with by Gardner in the Stamford goal. Strollers 3 Hampton 1
Next up were Harborough Town’s second string who were bottom half in the table and who Strollers had beaten 6 – 3 earlier in the season. Stamford again dominated possession and created a number of chances, including a penalty miss, but a combination of good goalkeeping, resolute defending and good fortune resulted in a goalless first half.
Second half Harborough parked the bus even deeper and slowed the game down as much as possible. Strollers were becoming increasingly frustrated, chances came and went and time was running out. Ironically Harborough won their first corner with a couple of minutes left and managed to win another 2 consecutive corners by drilling the ball into the near post area. On their fourth corner Woods managed to block the cross and find Marsden on the break who crossed to Colin Barrett-Treen who swept the ball sweetly into the corner of the Harborough net to make it 1 – 0 to Stamford. With 4 games to play Strollers B are now up to third with a chance of a top 2 finish a real possibility. Strollers 1 Harborough 0