Report: Saunders brace helps Dabbers come from behind to beat Stafford

A second half brace from Callum Saunders helped his side to a 3-1 victory over fellow Northern Premier League Premier Division side Stafford Rangers.

Matty Devine on the ball (photo: Jonathan White)

After Saturday’s 4-2 loss to football league neighbours Crewe Alexandra. Dave Cooke’s side were looking to get back to winning ways on a stunning summers night in Nantwich.

The game got off to the worst possible start for the hosts as they found themselves a goal down after just three minutes when a corner from the right was headed home by Jon Moran at the second attempt, after his initial effort was saved by Nantwich keeper Cameron Terry.

Eleven minutes later, the scorers were level as Callum Saunders drilled in an exquisite cross towards Joe Malkin at the near post who looped his header over the keeper, and into the far-right corner. It was an excellent cross by the Welshman, so good in-fact, that Dabbers manager Dave Cooke was overheard saying “that’s the best cross I’ve seen in my spell as gaffer at this club”

In the eighteenth minute there was a bizarre stoppage in play after the sprinklers randomly came on, no one seemed to be able to turn them on. It wasn’t until around 10 minutes later that the groundsman emerged from the tunnels to save the day and allow play to continue.

After the pitch had its well-earned water break Stafford had another good opportunity from a corner after the dangerous Moran was left unmarked again, however his header flashed wide of the Nantwich goal and behind for a goal kick.

It was the visitors who were looking the more likely to score, They came close once again on the half our mark as they worked the ball well into the box but when the ball fell to Thomas Tonks on the edge of the area, His effort was poor and easy for Terry to save in the Nantwich goal.

At half time it was Stafford who had looked the better of the two sides. They certainly would have felt that they should have been ahead, however luckily for the Dabbers the scores were level.

A new look Dabbers side entered the fray for the period as Dave Cooke made seven changes at half time. However, it was normal service resumed as the visitors had the first effort of the half. Joe Kenton was played through on goal, however when he got into the box, he dragged his effort wide of the post.

The Dabbers had their first effort of the half after 58 minutes when half time substitute Carlos Montefiori cut inside from the left before curling his effort from 25 yards agonisingly around the wrong side of the post.

In the 64th minute Nantwich won a penalty. The ball seemed to be going out of play, however a needless challenge from the Stafford defender meant that Saunders hit the deck and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Callum Saunders dusted himself down and stepped up to rifle his penalty into the bottom right corner, leaving the keeper with absolutely no chance.

Six minutes later, Callum Saunders found the back of the net again. The ball found it’s was into the path of Joe Malkin who was excellently challenge by the Stafford defender, However the ball fell to the path of Saunders who expertly finished to get his third goal in as many games to double the Dabber lead. In the build-up to the goal the tackle on Malkin meant that he ended up getting stretchered off with an apparent hamstring injury. It goes without saying that we with Joe a very speedy recovery.

The final ten minutes included a plethora of Stafford efforts towards goal but none of them caused the Nantwich goal any harm and as the referee blew his whistle for the final time The Dabbers had showed excellent character and completed a brilliant turnaround. Despite going a goal down early on and being on back foot for most of the first half, A quick fire Saunders double helped then run out winners on the night.

Click here to see the full set of match photographs.

Next up for Nantwich is a visit from Wolverhampton Wanderers u23s on Friday night (19:00 KO) before they travel to Eccleshall on Tuesday night (19:45 KO)