Stamford AFC visits Ilkeston Town in the Midlands division of the Premier League North

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Stamford manager Graham Drury will be hopeful that an exceptional crowd for Saturday’s clash with head-table Ilkeston will boost his side as they seek to close the gap with the leaders of the North Division of the Premier League Midlands.

The Robins are offering free entry to both groups of supporters for the crucial clash at New Manor Ground on Saturday.

With Ilkeston already one of the best-supported clubs in the division, Daniels boss relishes the clash as his side aim to cut their top hosts’ seven-point deficit.

Stamford lost 3-1 at home to Ilkeston in their opener of the season.

He said: “These are the games you should look forward to and want to play.

“We know their support will make noise and noise, but that should spur us on because it’s always good to play in front of big crowds.

“Hopefully the free entry means we’ll have a few more Stamford fans as well, as they can put the admission fee into the fuel tank.

“We’re going to go out there and play our football and hopefully come out the winners, but if they’re a better team on this day and deserve to fight, then I’ll shake hands with Martin Carruthers (Ilkeston manager) and say it’s over. “

Stamford enters the clash after missing the opportunity to make the most of Ilkeston falling 4-2 away to Sporting Khalsa last weekend.

The Daniels were held 2-2 at home by lower-ranking Soham Town Rangers and lost play-off spots midweek following Coleshill’s 1-1 draw at Daventry.

Mike Armstrong is suspended for Saturday's game.  (53768171)
Mike Armstrong is suspended for Saturday’s game. (53768171)

And manager Drury awaits a response from his side as they also seek revenge for a 3-1 home loss to Ilkeston on Matchday 1 of the season.

He added: “It’s a tough job on Saturday because Ilkeston brought in some quality players. They’ve recruited well and are leading the league for a reason.

“I think the first game of the season could have gone one way or the other. We had a great chance to go 1-1 and then probably would have won the game.

“We didn’t take him and ended up pushing and we were caught twice to lose him.

“Ilkeston maybe can afford a draw on Saturday, so their mindset will be not to lose to us because we want to go out there and win a football game like we always do.

“Saturday’s result won’t define the season, but results like the games against Histon and Soham might because we haven’t put them to bed.

“They cost us because, if you put those four points on our total, then we’re in a good position to challenge Ilkeston.

“We have to try to win the game and it will be about the boys’ desire to right the wrongs.

“They have done it over and over again and I hope we can go on Saturday and be up to the challenge.

Joe Burgess (53768180)
Joe Burgess (53768180)

“We’ll have to get used to their new 4G terrain, but we won’t be looking for excuses. We will go there to do our best.

“We have to win the battle first and then hopefully have the quality to put the ball in the net and keep it out of the other end, which is the end and the end of everything. “

Stamford will be without Mike Armstrong following his expulsion this weekend, but Cameron Johnson will return to the squad with Joe Burgess who made his first game of the season with a knee injury on loan at Deeping Rangers on Saturday.

He was recalled from his short stint at the United Counties League Premier Division North club following Armstrong’s sacking on Saturday.

Drury explained, “I had to take Joe out with Mikey. It’s unfortunate for Deeping because I said he would play a few games for them.

“It is necessary, because I had not planned the expulsion of Mikey. I will apologize to Daniel French (manager of Deeping) for this, but we have to take care of our own house first.”




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