This eagerly anticipated local derby League Cup semi-final failed to explode into the expected footballing firework display but, for Stamford, fizzled out into a self inflicted damp squib bearing no resemblance to the side who overcame Peterborough Sports in their euphoric quarter final win when they took on and outplayed the big guns with an impressive passing game.
Yet, Stamford showed promise in an attacking first 10 minutes with a Sam Jordan range shot flying over the bar with Blackstone’s’ penned inside their own half. Blackstone’s’ survived this nervy period and slowly edged their way back into the game with a collective fighting spirit picking up the pace and stemming Stamford’s’ now fragmented attacks by confidently winning first and second balls, closing down quickly giving their opponents no room or time on the ball.
Even high balls were allowed to bounce instead of being attacked as Stamford conceded ground seeming to suffer a hangover from the Sports match with too many players failing to respond to the challenge even with a Cup final spot and bragging rights up for grabs. Blackstone’s patently wanted it more with superior teamwork and aggressively winning almost every ball as Stamford lost cohesion reverting to pumping long balls down for Rory Hudson and Harvey Oxford to run on to.
Instead of simple inter-passing there was too much individual play even near and in their own area trying tricks and hanging on to the ball too long with a touch too many often resulting in conceding possession in dangerous areas. Blackstone’s maintained the pressure sensing this could be their day as Stamford’s get up and go, got up and went after allowing their opponents in for a fairly easy goal to take the lead before the half ended.
Lucky to be only one down failed to inspire Stamford to come out guns blazing as the score line meant they were still in with a shout but poor first touch and control with passes going astray and too much individual play were all frustrating for dismayed supporters to watch. Inevitable then that Blackstone’s’ scored another give away goal midway through the second half as Stamford seemed to lose hope, energy and the will to win giving their opponents more of the game than they should have had.
Fair play to Blackstone’s as their positive aggression overcame a side who were thought of as the more likely winners especially after the quarter final win over Sports. Stamford Captain Liam Taylor was in no mood to concede and fought hard throughout to try and inspire his team with keeper Max Peverell again faultless. Difficult to understand what happened to Stamford with such a fantastic opportunity to reach a final having disposed of the top side in the last round and maybe, for most just a bad day at the office but what a day to have it.