Nantwich Town fell to a 2-0 defeat away at title favourites Blyth Spartans. The Dabbers held the hosts at bay in the first half on a firm pitch, although they were indebted to keeper Dan Gyollai for a number of top saves. They could have even pinched a goal as Josh Hancock, Joe Mwasile and Curtis Jones had chances.
In the 2nd half they fell behind early to a deflected free kick from Blyth legend Robbie Dale. Things went from bad to worse just before the hour mark as Stephen Turnbull curled home a 2nd free kick to put the Spartans in a commanding position. The Dabbers were fortunate to not fall further behind as Turnbull blazed a penalty wide, but the miss made little difference to the result as Blyth ran out comfortable winners to go top of the league.
Phil Parkinson made a number of changes for the game from the side that started the midweek trip to Runcorn Linnets, with all the regulars returning to the side, including Dan Gyollai, Hancock, Ryan Brooke and Matt Bell. Andy White also recovered from an ankle knock to replace Joel Stair.
The game got off to a blockbuster start, with Hancock forcing an excellent save from Spartans keeper Paul Woolston 30 seconds in. From the resulting corner, the ball fell surprisingly to the head of Joe Mwasile, who flicked the ball narrowly wide of the far post. Both were great chances and the Dabbers were unfortunate not to be ahead early on.
The action moved to the other end, as Sean Reid found some space and ran at the Dabbers back line. He shot from distance but dragged his effort well wide. The home side had the ball in the net on 5 minutes when a cross from the Dabbers right flew straight in. However, the linesman ruled the goal out, with a number of Spartans players adjudged to have been in an offside position, impeding Gyollai’s view of the ball.
The Spartans were well on top after the Dabbers early chances, with Jarrett Rivers driving in a cross that eluded everyone in the box. Dale then earned a corner after seeing his shot deflect wide. Nantwich were searching for a foothold in the game, with the home side controlling possession and looking dangerous in attack. Nathan Buddle headed over from another Spartans corner.
The Spartans were controlling the territory, but couldn’t convert their chances. Dale cut inside on the right but blazed his effort over the bar and Danny Maguire forced Gyollai into a smart save. David Atkinson was next to test the Dabbers keeper, as he rose at the far post and sent a header on goal that Gyollai had to push around the post.
Gyollai then had to be sharp to tip a looping cross over his bar, whilst Atkinson had another chance but skewed it high and wide. After being on the back foot for large periods of the half, the Dabbers then had their 3rd good chance, as Curtis Jones headed wide from a corner right at the end of injury time. It had been an action packed first half, with both sides unlucky not to have scored.
After defending manfully in the first half, the Dabbers went behind early in the 2nd. Bell clipped Reid on the edge of the box and Dale stepped up to take. His effort hit the wall and deflected past a helpless Gyollai to put the home side 1-0 to the good. Dale tried his luck from distance a few minutes later, but the ball this time deflected straight at Gyollai.
Just as the Dabbers thought they’d rode the storm out, Blyth doubled their lead with another free kick. Riley was the guilty party this time after clipping his man on the edge of the box. This time it was Stephen Turnbull who stepped up and curled an excellent effort into the top corner, once again giving Gyollai no chance.
The Dabbers couldn’t match their opponents as Blyth looked for more goals. Reid shot wide and Maguire forced Gyollai into yet another save. Parky made his first change, bringing on Khaellem Bailey-Nicholls for Wayne Riley. On 68 minutes though, the Dabbers gave away a penalty as Jones felled his man. However, Turnbull could only put his penalty high and wide, giving the Dabbers a slim chance at getting back into the game.
The Dabbers 2nd change came with 20 minutes ago as Abadaki came on for Mwasile. Brooke had an effort from distance easily saved as Blyth closed down the game. The home fans wanted another penalty as sub Adam Wrightson was eased off the ball by Harrison in the box, but the ref wasn’t interested. The Spartans had to finish the final 10 minutes of the game with 10 men when Liddle was caught by Bailey-Nicholls and had to withdraw.
The loss of a man didn’t affect Blyth, although they did get Maguire and Cartwright into the book for late fouls. The Dabbers were unable to mount a response and fell to just their 4th away league defeat of the season. They will now look to dust themselves down and go again on Tuesday at home to Sutton Coldfield Town.
Blyth Spartans: Paul Woolston, David Atkinson(Andrew Cartwright, 70), Michael Liddle, Damen Mullen, Ryan Hutchinson, Nathan Buddle, Jarrett Rivers(Adam Wrightson, 68), Stephen Turnbull, Daniel Maguire, Sean Reid(Jordan Laidler, 79), Robbie Dale(c)
Unused Subs: Luke Armstrong, Richard Pell
Goalscorers: Dale(47), Turnbull(58)
Bookings: Maguire, Cartwright
Nantwich Town: Daniel Gyollai, Andy White, Ibou Touray, Ben Harrison, Curtis Jones, Sam Hall(c), Josh Hancock, Wayne Riley(Khaellem Bailey-Nicholls, 65), Ryan Brooke, Matt Bell, Joe Mwasile(Osebi Abadaki, 70)
Unused Subs: Joel Stair, Reece Quinn, Sam Madeley
Bookings: Bell, White
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