Stocksbridge Park Steels 1 – 5 Nantwich Town
By Ashley Houghton
A Josh Lane double, on his first Dabbers start, was the highlight as a dominant Nantwich performance extended their unbeaten run to seven at the Look Local Stadium. Lane’s brace as well as goals from Michael Lennon, Dave MacPherson and Si Everall gave the Dabbers their biggest win of the 2011-12 season and heaped more misery on the Steels whose EvoStik Northern Premier Division status will now go down to the final day of the season.
Dabbers boss, Jimmy Quinn, made three changes to the side that beat high-flying Chorley 1-0 on Saturday, with Lane replacing Everall, Lennon coming in for Caspar Hughes and Tom Urwin, who scored Saturday’s winner, being preferred to Zak Foster. Nantwich took the lead on just four minutes when Lennon’s shot, from Lane’s flick on, was well saved by Steels keeper Ben Scott but the ex-Eccleshall man continued his run and hammered the rebound into the top right hand corner. The Dabbers nearly doubled their advantage just two minutes later as Lennon was again involved, this time cutting back to MacPherson on the edge of the area but the midfielder’s left footed shot went just wide. Stocksbridge had chances of their own though as Scott Hogan smashed a 25 yard shot towards the bottom left hand corner only to be thwarted by a great save from Jon Brain.
The South Yorkshire side equalised on 20 minutes as Anthony Tansley’s headed clearance found Hogan, who turned Matt Lowe before striking home a fine right footed finish. It took just two minutes for Nantwich to regain the lead though as Lane once again won a flick on header which put Lennon through to smash home on his 200th Dabbers appearance. Sean Cooke went close to extending the visitors lead further on the half hour mark but his left footed shot from Lennon’s pass fizzed wide. Steels had a chance to equalise just before half-time as they awarded a dubious penalty when Andy White was adjudged to have felled Hogan. But Dabbers keeper, Brain, saved the penalty and the follow up to provide a catalyst for the Dabbers to go on and complete the five goal rout.
Nantwich made it 3-1 five minutes into the second half as Lennon was fouled in the penalty area trying to get on the end of a Lane cross and MacPherson made no mistake in beating Scott from the spot kick. The hosts were reduced to ten men on the hour mark as Hogan caught Cooke with a late challenge on the edge of the area. Lane grabbed his second minutes after the sending off as MacPherson’s long ball evaded all the Steels defenders and landed at the feet of Lane who coolly slotted home. And, the young striker could have had his hat-trick ten minutes later as Dabbers captain Chris Flynn fed him through on goal but having rounded Scott he slid his shot into the side netting.
Nantwich continued to play fluid football and had further opportunities as Foster went close to scoring a goal of the season contender, the ex-Stoke City trainee beat four Steels players before forcing a fine save from Stott.
Substitute, Everall, got the fifth goal five minutes from time as Cooke’s cross found the head of McDonald but his effort was well saved by Stott, only for Everall to nod the rebound home at the back post.
MAN OF THE MATCH: JOSH LANE (NANTWICH)
Nantwich: Brain, Lowe, White, Flynn ©, Moss, McDonald, Urwin (Foster, 70), MacPherson (Hughes, 73), Lane, Lennon (Everall, 80) Cooke. Sub: Maguire
Stocksbridge Park Steels: Scott, Tansley, Whitehouse, Haigh ©, Weston, Callery, Stirrup (Harrison, 60), Telling, Muldoon (Ring, 80), Hogan, Turner (Coleman, 35). Subs: Davies, Collinge.