On a night that started off with the fog very much rolling onto the pitch, before a game that was a must win for Nantwich, for there to be a change in the momentum from 2021 into 2022, the start was very much not the one that the home side had wanted as even before kick off David Vaughan was not able to take his place on the bench, as he was replaced by Joe Mwasile.
Both teams were looking to make the most of this match and to take the three points, but it was the visitors who started off the better side, forcing an early corner in just the fourth minute, to which they managed to score and take the lead, through Brad Grayson who found himself in a bit of space, and turned well to strike the ball past Matty Gould in the home sides goal. A wonderful start for Gainsborough, and not the one that all of the home fans wanted to see.
From there that seemed to be the wake up call that Nantwich needed, as first of all, a really good through ball saw Dan Cockerline race through only to see his shot saved by Matt Yates, then Joe Malkin saw his header fly just inches wide.
From there the pendulum swung once again to the visitors, as they really should have extended their lead, but for a truly magnificent save at point blank range by Gould to stop an Alex Wollerton header, before the follow up shot was sent over the bar. Another chance came to which Gould was up to the challenge, this time from a Cieron Keane free kick, saving well to deny the Holy Blues another goal, it really was back to the wall stuff here by the Dabbers, to make sure that there were no more goals being conceded before half time.
There was one moment of rest-bite, when it looked like Nantwich had levelled things up, when after half an hour, the ball found its way to Joe Robbins, who saw his shot beat Yates, only to see it hit the inside of the post and fall to Sean Cooke who was unfortunately stood in an offside position. From there the home side looked to pile on the pressure to find that most elusive of equalisers before half time, but sadly it wasn’t to be, and the away side went in at the break with the lead.
There must have been some home truths delivered in the dressing room, as the start to the second half was very different, as the Dabbers looked revitalised, and determined to turn this game around.
After just a few mins of the restart, Matty Devine did very well on the left hand side, and it was he who put in a quite wonderful cross, Cockerline to head the ball, but again the woodwork saved the away side, before Cooke who was onside this time, saw his shot just narrowly go wide from the rebound.
The pressure was building, and again it was that combination of Cockerline and Cooke who were causing the away side’s defence all manner of issues and troubles, as Cooke this time saw a shot saved by Yates. Then after just nine minutes of the second half it happened, Bourne got the crucial and vital equaliser, when a wonderful cross by Cooke is met by Joe Malkin, who saw his header saved by the busy Yates, only for Bourne to be in the right place at the right time to slot home, to the delight of the home fans! Would it possible to get another goal, and to get the vital three points, well that Bourne goal seemed to knock the confidence of the away side, as almost straight away Joe Malkin has another shot, which went just wide, the momentum was all with Nantwich now.
Then the moment that changed the whole game happened, those of a certain vintage will remember when Paolo di Canio raced through at Old Trafford to score for West Ham United, despite some people thinking he was offside, well a very similar situation happened here, as after a wonderful through ball to Cockerline, who raced on to it, and very calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net, it was initially ruled out for offside, as the assistant referee had raised their flag, so the initial celebrations died down. However the ball had seemingly come off a Gainsborough players leg on the way through to Cockerline, and he did very well to do what you should always do, play to the whistle, as that isn’t what some of the away teams players did, as they stopped anticipating a whistle after seeing the assistant raise his flag. So despite the protests of the away teams players, and after checking with his assistant, the goal was given, and the home fans could celebrate a much needed, and much earned second goal based on how they had started the second half.
From there, that seemed to have really deflated and took the wind out of the sails of Gainsborough, as the chances kept on coming for the home side, as Robbins had another very good chance which went just over the bar, before some very good game management started to come into play by David Cooke’s side, as they slowed the tempo down, to make sure that no chances fell to the away side. Thankfully it worked, and the game finished 2-1 to Nantwich, after what was a truly remarkable turnaround, and a vital three points were earned by the home side.
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