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Reaction of Stamford AFC first team coach Kevin Ward after their draw with Leamington

First team coach Kev Ward felt the Stamford players had passed a true test of character in their 2-2 home draw with Leamington on Saturday.

The Daniels looked to be heading for defeat in the Southern League Premier Division Central clash when the Brakes scored twice in five second half minutes.

But Stamford produced a rousing finale as goals from Connor Bartle and Jack Duffy secured a share of the spoils.

Kev Ward. Photo: Rob O'Brien
Kev Ward. Photo: Rob O'Brien

Ward felt the point was just reward for the players' efforts with their excellent comeback capping a solid display.

He said: "I was pleased with the performance overall.

"To go 2-0 down was a kick where it hurts in regard to the effort which the lads had put in and our game-plan as well because we stuck to it very well.

"It was then a test of character. We changed the shape with plenty of time to go when a lot of people would have left it to the last five minutes.

"I thought we might as well have a proper go at it, made some substitutions, and the two lads who came on got the goals.

"We got back to 2-2 and we looked like the team that could go on and win the game.

"We've had it so many times this season where just one goal changes the dimension of the game.

"We had that when we were 2-0 down and, all of a sudden, we were back in the game and our levels went through the roof."

Stamford had looked the more likely side to break the deadlock in a goalless first half.

They then fell behind to a goal from former Peterborough United striker Tyrone Barnett with Henry Landers doubling the advantage shortly after.

However, Bartle stepped off the bench to cut the deficit with a brilliant free-kick before his cross was converted by Duffy for the leveller with just two minutes remaining.

Ward added: "I thought we were well and truly on top in the first half and played some good football in difficult conditions.

"I think it wasn't until the 43rd minute that they really worked our keeper, which I was obviously pleased about.

"We wanted much the same in the second half but what we were trying to inspire into the team was just about the final third.

"We'd had some really good entries but I felt like we turned the opportunity down at times to get the ball into the box, especially with the weather conditions where the ball was zipping around which made it a lottery.

"They then had a phase of play to take the lead and unfortunately at this level that is much of what we have been experiencing.

"You can be so far on top, which we have been in many games, and you then get punished at this level and it happened to us twice.

"But, even after the first goal had gone in, we still retained the momentum and I felt we were on top and I always fancied us to score."

The draw leaves Stamford in seventh spot, two points outside the play-off places. They travel to second-placed Hitchin Town next Saturday.

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