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Honours even in Dabbers League Opener

Sean Cooke after scoring in an early match

The Dabbers kicked off their Pitching In Northern Premier League campaign with a 1-1 draw away at FC United Of Manchester. 

Dabbers gaffer Dave Cooke described his teams fixture against FC United as “a great advert for the league” as both sides battled out a 1-1 draw at Broadhurst Park.

It was the home side who started the brighter of the two sides and they should have taken the lead after ten minutes as The Dabbers failed to clear a cross into the box, it fell to Micheal Flower who suddenly found himself in on goal, however debutant Anthony McMillan was on hand to save with his legs. 

One minute later, they had another good opportunity as a cross from the right was met by Micheal Potts at the back post, however he couldn’t direct his head towards goal and it went wide of the far post. 

The Dabbers were really struggling to get into the game, their hosts were knocking the ball around nicely and not really giving The Dabbers any time on the ball. In the 21st minute the hosts had another great chance to take the lead when Morgan Homsom-Smith played it down the line to Adam Dodd who raced down the left side, as he got to the byline he cut it back for Regan Linney who saw his first time shot cleared off the line by Troy Bourne. 

The Dabbers finally has their first opportunity of the game in the 32nd minute as Luke Walsh played a fantastic reverse ball to find Sean Cooke who was able to take it in his stride as he raced towards goal. As the midfielder beared down on goal he shot, but Lavercombe stood up well and saved the close range strike. 

Chances were coming like buses for the Nantwich, you wait half an hour for them to have one, then in 15 minutes they have two. This time it was Prince Heywood who brilliantly put through David Webb who had acres of space down the right side, as he got into the box, he unleashed a venomous strike but it was straight at the keeper who once again saved from close range. 

Nantwich Town Manager Dave Cooke oversees the action (photo: Jonathan White)

At half time the game was goalless. Both sides had opportunities to take the lead but neither could convert. Dabbers gaffer Dave Cooke told us the game “at half time I told the boys that if we have scored one of those three clear cut chances we had, it would have put us in good stead going into the second half, however we knew that the second half would provide another tough test as FC United were looking like the better side”

The Dabbers started the second period the better of the two sides.  They were using the ball well as the looked to outplay their opponents. Despite having most of the ball, they couldn’t manage to muster a chance. 

In fact, it was the hosts who had the first opportunity of the half after 63 minutes, a long ball up field wasn’t cleared by the Dabbers which allowed Micheal Flower to control the ball and then feed Paul Ennis whose rather tame shot deflected of the outstretched leg of Joel Stair before wrong footing McMillan and nestled in the back of the net. Dave Cooke told us after the game “I thought it was a poor goal to concede, we should have dealt with the long ball better than we did”

After conceding the Dabbers changed their shape as Ben Harrison was replaced by Luke Walsh, just before conceding Joe Malkin also entered the fray. Just three minutes after going a goal down, The Dabbers were soon back on level terms. Joe Malkin who has only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes did brilliantly well down the right side to find space and then pick out Sean Cooke who had ghosted his way into the area, Cooke then fired a first time shot from the edge of the box into the bottom left corner to get his side back on level terms. Dave Cooke expressed his admiration for Sean after the game “Sean looks fitter, he’s had a great pre season I’m delighted that he has got on the score sheet today” 

After getting back on level terms. Nantwich were on top and came inches away from taking the lead just five minutes after scoring their first. Once again it was Sean Cooke who was at the heart of The Dabbers attack as he broke down the left sided before playing a ball inside to Callum Saunders, the Welshman then returned the ball back to Cooke who saw his curling effort go just wide of the far right post.

With the time ticking down, there was one more chance for Nantwich as Joel Stair played a fantastic diagonal ball to James Lawrie down the left side who drove into the box before getting to the byline and firing at goal, unfortunately for him the angle was too tight and his straight went the wrong side of the post as it crashed into the side netting. 

As the referee signalled the end of the game I think both sides will have been pleased with a point to kick off their league campaign. You could argue that Nantwich had the better of the second half but couldn’t quite find that winning goal.