Match Preview: Nantwich Town v Hereford

Scott McGowan shoots and scores against Witton (photo: Jonathan White)

Article: Jack Beresford
Photographs: Jonathan White

Nantwich Town are set to welcome Vanarama National League North side Hereford FC to the Optimum Pay Stadium on Saturday as the sides face off in the Third Round of the Buildbase FA Trophy.

This is the first time that the Dabbers have got to the Third Round of the FA Trophy since their incredible run in the 2015/16 season which saw The Dabbers get all the way to the semi-final where they were eventually knocked out by Halifax Town after losing lost 6-4 on aggregate after two legs.

The Dabbers started their FA trophy campaign with a 3-2 victory away at Southern League Premier Division Central side Redditch united, A goal either side of the break from Callum Saunders and a thunderbolt from Prince Haywood helped the Dabbers progress into the next round.

In the First Round proper Nantwich hosted Northern Premier league North West Division side Workington AFC. The tie was played on Tuesday 10th December and both sides gave a very good account of themselves.

Dave Cooke’s side took the lead after first half substitute Callum Saunders who had replaced the injured Matty Devine after just eight minutes, found the back of the net. His mazy run down the left flank allowed him to get into to the box before he squeezed his strike in between the keeper and the near post to put The Dabbers ahead.

Soon after, Nantwich doubled their lead, after some good work down the right side, David Webb got to the by-line and crossed to Scott McGowan who nonchalantly flicked home his first goal in Dabbers colours. The Dabbers were by far the better side in the first half so manager Dave Cooke would have been pleased with what he had seen.

Scott McGowan celebrates his second goal against Witton (photo: Jonathan White)

The second half, however, was much different. The visitors came out of the blocks looking very strong. They pulled a goal back from the penalty spot when Connor Tinnion sent Greg Hall the wrong way to make the scores 2-1. Workington were now chasing a goal and they were throwing everything they had at Nantwich. This came back to bite them in the 90th minute when Nantwich broke and Scott McGowan beat the onrushing keeper to the ball before slotting home, into an empty net from 25 yards to send his side into the next round.

In the Third Round, The Dabbers made the short trip to Cheshire rivals Witton Albion. The hosts took the lead after just eight minutes when Scott Bakkor fired home from just inside in the box. Twenty minutes later The Dabbers were back on level terms after Scott McGowan showed excellent perseverance to win the ball back deep in the Witton half before cutting inside and rifling into the roof of the of the net from the right side of the box. Moments later, McGowan had turned the game on its head as he got on the end of a Luke Walsh through ball before once again cutting in from the right flank before curling a wonderful strike into the top left corner to get his second of the game and put The Dabbers ahead.

In the second half, Nantwich ran riot. In the 54th minute centre back Ben Harrison headed home from a Caspar Hughes corner to double his sides lead. Moments later, David Webb and Luke Walsh linked up well on the edge of the area which allowed Webb to break the offside trap and then roll the ball under the keeper to make it 4-1. In the 90th minute Walsh then got his much-deserved goal as he latched onto a long ball over the top before lifting the ball over the on-rushing keeper to make it 5-1 to The Dabbers. Rob Hopley then pulled a goal goal back for the hosts, but it didn’t really mean anything as Nantwich emphatically progressed into the next round as they ran out 5-2 victors.

Nantwich Town are currently the joint second highest scorers in the competition after netting 11 goals in the three games that they have played, they also have a man in form in Scott McGowan who has bagged four goals in the FA Trophy, all of which have come in the last two games. In the last round McGowan scored two goals which helped his side take the lead after going a goal down early on.

Dabbers Manager Dave Cooke (photo: Jonathan White)

Nantwich manager Dave Cooke spoke very highly of his summer signing after the game as he said, “Scott gave everybody a lift, I thought his two goals were out of this world and I told the lads at half time that Scott has dug us out and we need to push on in the second half and that’s what we did”.

When asked about the Hereford match Cooke added “It’s a huge game for the club and for the town, they’re a former football league side who have rebuilt themselves back to where they should be. It’ll be a great game to be involved in and were very much looking forward to it”

Hereford on the other hand, have only played one game in the FA Trophy after they joined the competition in the Second Round. The Bulls hosted Southern League Division One Central side St Neots Town at Edgar Street. Two first half goals from James Grimes and Kyle Finn put the hosts in charge at the break before former football league striker Lennel John Lewis sealed their passage into the third round as they ran out 3-0 victors on the night.

In the league, Hereford currently sit in 16th place after picking up 12 points from their opening 9 games, however they do have some very dangerous players in their squad which the Dabbers will have to be wary of.

In Lennel John-Lewis, The Bulls have an experienced football league striker, John-lewis has made over 200 appearances for sides such as Grimsby Town, Lincoln City and Bury where he helped them to promotion from league two. The forward has made a blistering start to his sides league campaign as he as found the net 6 times in his sides first 9 games, including a brace in their most recent game against The Dabbers FA Cup first round opponents, AFC Fylde.

Some other stand-out players in the Hereford squad include full back Dan Jones, midfielders Ryan Lloyd and Tom Owen-Evans, all of which have football league experience.

The fixture is home fans only as per FA Trophy rules when a Non-Elite club play an elite club. We are also capped at 600 supporters. Tickets must be bought off the Nantwich Town website.