Lancaster City 1 Nantwich Town 1

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Article: Jack Beresford

Connor Heath rescues point for ten-man Dabbers

Nantwich Town kicked off their Northern Premier League Premier Division fixture with a 1-1 draw against Lancaster City.

Nantwich Town manager Dave Cooke was absent from the touchline as he is recovering from a recent hip operation, so it was up to Jay Bateman & Nigel Deeley to provide the instructions from the touchline whilst Assistant Manager Ritchie Sutton started at centre half. They picked a strong side, handing competitive debuts to summer signings Louis Gray, AJ Leitch-Smith & Joel Grant. Sutton told us after the game that we were “proud of the boys, and was pleased by the shift that his lads put in”

The opening exchanges of the game were very scrappy, The Dabbers had a couple of set-plays, but the delivery was poor. The first effort of the game fell to the hosts as Lawson received the ball on the edge of the box, but his snapshot went well over. The conditions were almost unbearable for the players and drinks breaks were certainly required. The break in play seemed to set the hosts into gear and they came close once again on the half hour mark when Charlie Bailey crossed for Lawson who saw his header well saved Louis Gray.

In the 33rd minute, The Dabbers were down to ten men. Experienced midfielder David Norris raced through on goal, as he tried to keep the ball under control, he was pulled back by Joe Robbins who was shown a straight red for denying a goalscoring opportunity. This changed the complexion of the game and left Nantwich with a lot of work to do to try and earn a result. “Even with eleven men I didn’t think that we created much, we weren’t getting many bodies forward. When we went down to ten, we had to get in at half time and regroup with a decent plan. To be fair to myself, Nige and Jay we put a good plan together and it worked”

On the stroke of half time, The Dabbers took off Joel Grant and bought on an extra midfielder in Jack Sherratt to add a bit more control to the game. Early into the second half it didn’t look like the plan would pay off as Charlie Bailey rattled the post with a long-range curling effort. Two minutes late, the deadlock was broken, and the hosts took the lead. Norris’ low cross into the box wasn’t cleared by The Dabbers backline and it fell to Charlie Bailey who tucked home under the on-rushing Louis Gray.

After going a goal down, it looked like the Dabbers had a mountain to climb, especially with them only having 10 men. The hosts had a good chance to level the scores in the 58th minute as Bailey cut inside and took aim, however his shot went out for throw in.

In the 70th minute, Nantwich bought on Connor Heath as they tried to stretch the Lancaster backline and try and get something from the game. In the 73rd minute, the plan worked and following an excellent through ball by Sean Cooke, Connor Heath was suddenly in-behind and through on goal. He waited for the ball to drop kindly before lifting over the onrushing keeper to send the Dabbers fans into raptures behind the goal. “Connor is an excellent player, when he’s running in behind he’s very hard to stop. Luckily at that moment in time he spotted the space and got in-behind to score. We’re really happy for him and the team for getting on scoresheet”

With the game not over, there was still chance for one more chance for the hosts to win the game. Lawson turned will in the box and took aim but his effort was superbly saved by Louis Gray.

At fulltime, the Dabbers had shown great character to come from behind and earn a point with ten-men. Next up for The Dabbers is a home fixture against recently promoted Warrington Rylands.

Nantwich Town Starting XI

  1. Louis Gray
  2. Joel Stair ©
  3. Troy Bourne
  4. Jon Moran
  5. Ritchie Sutton (Joe Mwasile 76’)
  6. Caspar Hughes
  7. AJ Leitch-Smith
  8. Joe Robbins (sent off 33’)
  9. Dan Cockerline
  10. Sean Cooke
  11. Joel Grant (Jack Sherratt 36’)

Jacob Edwards
Shaun Miller