By Ryan Batty:
A goal straight from the first whistle from Harry Clayton set the tone for Nantwich as they recorded an excellent start to the New Year with a 2-0 victory over Barwell at Kirkby Road.
Clayton gave Nantwich the lead after just thirty-nine seconds, and they were able to double their lead with twenty minutes to go as Sean Cooke got back amongst the goals, taking it round the keeper and slotting into an empty net.
Nantwich made two changes from the side that lost at the weekend, as David Forbes and Joe Mwasile were replaced by Jamie Morgan and Clayton, who returned to the side after a suspension.
Dave Cooke’s men got off to an excellent start as, just thirty-nine seconds in, a mistake by Barwell ‘keeper Turner allowed Clayton to dink it over the stopper and take the lead; a cracking start to the fixture for the Dabbers.
On the edge of the ten-minute mark, Turner almost made another crucial mistake for the hosts as, taking too long on the ball, Clayton rushed the keeper down and forced a blocked kick – the ball falling straight to Cooke. However, the midfielder was put under heavy pressure and Cooke’s header was a tad underhit and Turner collected the ball, breathing a heavy sigh of relief.
The first real chance for the visitors came after twenty minutes as Heath made a good run into the Nantwich half, but his shot from the right of the box was errant and rolled wide of Fabian Spiess’ far post.
Just two minutes later, the Dabbers had a pair of close chances that troubled Turner as firstly, after twenty-two minutes, Courtney Wildin drove forward before launching a shot towards goal. However, Wildin couldn’t quite replicate his thunderbolt of a strike from the weekend and Turner juggled the ball before collecting.
A minute after, Clayton dragged it across goal for Cooke, but unfortunately, Cooke was brought down as he took the shot and it just came off the post.
With ten minutes until the break, the hosts had a free-kick on the left-hand side. Swinging the ball into the area, Spiess leapt into the air to punch away with both hands, but brought down Sam Hall and Stenson in the process.
Hall was fine to continue, but Stenson went over to the sidelines to receive further treatment, but that proved to be the final action for Stenson as he was replaced on the edge of the break by Mitchell Piggon.
The Dabbers controlled most of the first half without any major challenges for the back four to face and went into the break with the lead – but only by one goal.
The hosts made another change at the break as Liam Kay replaced Owen Story.
Barwell came into the second half with an added spring in their step and looked unrecognisable from their first half selves, but the Dabbers’ backline were able to defend well against any attacks.
The first real chance of the second half came after ten minutes as Towers found a gap in the Nantwich defence and advanced towards goal, however, Spiess expertly rushed out to clear the danger.
Spiess began a quick Nantwich break and they were in the opposite box just a minute later. Clayton received the ball on the left and attempted a side-footed shot to double his, and Nantwich’s goal tally, but his effort narrowly scraped the post.
Ten minutes later, Nantwich required some sharp defending as Brady Hickey was played in one-on-one, but took just a touch too many as it allowed Joel Stair to step in and block the shot, eventually clearing away.
However, Nantwich extended the lead soon after. On the seventieth minute, a mis-communication at the back allowed Cooke to sneak behind the defence, and showing a true attacker’s touch, took it round Turner and simply tapped it into an empty net to double the lead.
Although Nantwich had extended their lead, the hosts were reluctant to leave it at that. Just a minute after the second goal, Barwell went up to the other end and a cross into the box found Piggon clear at the far post, but Spiess pulled off a superb save to prevent a swift reply.
With fifteen minutes left, Nantwich almost scored a third! Wildin found Hall at the back post who on his first touch, put a neat low cross into the six-yard box that Clayton almost turned in.
The final real chance of the game came for the hosts as Whitmore fired a powerful shot from twenty-five yards that troubled Spiess, but he was able to recover and save the effort.
Nantwich pushed for a third, but Barwell defended well to prevent any further attacks for The Dabbers.
Dave Cooke and his men will be delighted to travel back to Cheshire with three more points in their pockets; the perfect way to begin the New Year!
We return to action on Saturday as we host Hednesford Town before beginning our Cheshire Senior Cup campaign a week on Wednesday when we make the short trip down the A534 to face Sandbach United.
Nantwich Town: Spiess, Morgan, Wildin, Stair, Bourne, Hall (C), Hughes, Bell, Clayton, Cooke, Cole
Subs not used: Phillips, Burzynski, Strong, Griggs, S. Jones
Barwell FC: Turner, Percival, Nisevic, Stanley (C), Towers, Heath, Story (Kay 46′), Whitmore, Hildreth, Hickey, Stenson (Piggon 45′)
Subs not used: Ball, Bates, Warmington
Referee: Mr M Howes
Picture courtesy of Kev Bourne« Back to all news