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Stamford AFC beat Kettering Town in the Southern League Premier Division Central





Jon Challinor moved another step closer to a memorable milestone as he scored the winning goal in Stamford's midweek victory at Kettering Town.

The 43-year-old netted against his old club with eight minutes of the Southern League Premier Division Central clash remaining to secure a vital victory for the Daniels.

It was his 398th appearance for the club and kept Stamford's play-off hopes alive with two matches of their season remaining.

Jon Challinor. Photo: Rob O'Brien
Jon Challinor. Photo: Rob O'Brien

But manager Graham Drury insists he won't be swayed by sentiment as Stamford set their sights on a top five finish.

Drury said: "It was a great feeling for Chally and he's always saying that he isn't finished yet.

"He's that figure that I have always had around and he's understood over the last couple of years why he's had that longevity.

"I use him sparsely to keep his career going and, although he always wants to play and still believes he can do it week in, week out, he now realises that I've looked after him over the years to keep him going and he appreciates that more than he did three or four years ago.

"He's selfish to try and score goals and was determined to get something against his old club.

"We could take him up to his 400th appearance for the club with two games remaining which would be an amazing achievement.

"But sentiment doesn't come into it with me. It will be about getting results so we'll have to wait and see if that means Chally entering the pitch or not."

Tendai Chitiza had earlier got Stamford back on level terms after Bruno Andrade had put the Poppies in front in the opening period.

Home goalkeeper Daniel Jezeph was sent off after the break where Stamford produced a much improved showing.

Drury added: "We do seem to be loving our midweek trips on a Tuesday night at the moment but I did have a real go at the players at half-time.

"We didn't keep possession of the ball well and looked panicky on it. We had half of the team on the front press and the other half in a low block so it stretched the pitch massively.

"Kettering were causing us problems because we were indecisive and it gave them too much time and space."

Stamford had started well in the opening 15 minutes and Lee Shaw tested Jezeph who was equal to his shot.

The Daniels then fell behind midway through the first half when a rare error from James Blunden was pounced on by Andrade to break the deadlock.

A superb close range save from Michael Duggan then denied Andrade and kept Kettering from doubling their lead before the break where Drury rallied his troops.

He said: "Jimmy (Blunden) had had one of those 45 minutes that everyone wants to forget but I told the lads at half-time about what an immense player he has been for Stamford over the years.

"If anybody deserves the team to pull them out of it then it's him. He's scored important goals and been fantastic for the club.

"We played with the high press in the second half and were more aggressive as a team from back to front which condensed the areas. We really went at it."

Stamford created a couple of chances before Jezeph was sent off for bringing down the last man.

The Daniels' substitutions then paid off as Callum Chettle was introduced and his intelligent pass found Jack Duffy who teed up Chitiza to equalise with 16 minutes remaining.

The momentum was now with Stamford and their winning goal arrived with eight minutes left as Shaw's persistent pressure created the opening for Challinor to fire home the winning goal.

The victory leaves Stamford three points outside the play-off places with two games of their season remaining.



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