CHESHIRE SENIOR CUP FINAL – Tuesday 24th April 2012
NANTWICH Town ended their memorable 2011/12 season in the best possible way with a 1-0 win over Stalybridge Celtic in the Cheshire Senior Cup Final at Chester FC’s Exacta Stadium.
Michael Lennon’s goal on the stroke of half-time proved to be the match winner as the Dabbers resolute defence saw them lift their first trophy since winning the same cup back in 2008.
Jimmy Quinn was forced into multiple changes to his squad due to injury and suspension, with three youth team players making the bench for the clash with Celtic, who currently lie one place outside the playoff places in the Blue Square Bet North.
Zak Foster and Tom Urwin both started with Nantwich captain, Chris Flynn, dropping into defence.
Celtic had the better of the early stages as the Dabbers midfield struggled to retain possession, although keeper Jon Brain was rarely tested. Craig Hobson headed Greg Wilkinson’s cross harmlessly over on the quarter hour, which was as close as the Tameside outfit came early on.
Stalybridge midfielder, Jack Rea, was impressive throughout and he went close to breaking the deadlock on 20 minutes as his right footed, 25-yard curler was inches wide of Brain’s bottom left hand corner.
The Blue Square North play-off hopefuls continued to dominate and had their best chance of the half on 25 minutes when Stephen Brogan’s corner fell to captain Rhys Meynell, who was thwarted by a fine save from Brain from ten yards.
Nantwich broke the deadlock just before half- time as they started to find their feet in the final. Lennon had his shot blocked from Sean Cooke’s clever free-kick, and from the return ball, the Dabbers leading marksman was fed in by Niall Maguire to slot home right footed from ten yards, keeping up his record of a goal in every round of the cup this season.
The goal gave Nantwich a lift going into the second half and the Dabbers midfield looked much more assured in possession, and they restricted Stalybridge to long range efforts with both Meynell and Wilkinson trying their luck from 30 yards.
The Dabbers made chances of their own as they started to control proceedings. Flynn could have doubled the Nantwich lead but his shot from the edge of the area was deflected over by Chris Lynch, Cooke also placed wide as the Dabbers looked to secure the game.
Brain, was called into action more often as the game progressed and made multiple saves, the pick being his save from Arthur Gnahoua’s deflected strike from the edge of the area.
The Dabbers managed to see the game out and their travelling fans were sent into raptures by the blow of the final whistle.
Nantwich Town: Jon Brain, Matt Lowe, Zak Foster, Dave MacPherson, Niall Maguire, Rod McDonald, Sean Cooke, Chris Flynn, Josh Lane, Michael Lennon, Tom Urwin. Subs: Simon Everall (for Lane, 70), Rodney Jack, Hayden Teanby, Sam Wakefield, Joshua Rowley (for Lennon, 90).
Stalybridge Celtic: Jan Budtz, Joel Bembo-Leta, Callum Warburton, Kristian Platt, Chris Lynch, Jack Rea, Rhys Meynell, Greg Wilkinson, Craig Hobson, Arthur Gnahoua, Stephen Brogan. Subs: Dennis Sheriff (for Bembo-Leta, 65), Tim Ryan, Mitchell Austin (for Hobson, 77), Lloyd Elams (for Gnahoua, 82), Craig MacGillivary.
Goals: Lennon (Nantwich) 42 mins
Bookings: Hobson (Stalybridge)
Photos courtesy of Simon J Newbury Photography.