By Ryan Batty:
Two goals from league top scorer James Walshaw condemned Nantwich to their fifth consecutive league defeat as Nantwich fell to a strong Farsley side at Throstle Nest.
Despite a strong showing from The Dabbers in the first half, they couldn’t quite keep the momentum into the second period.
The Celts took the lead after sixty-nine minutes as Walshaw found the ball on the left-hand side and was able to side-foot it past Reece Quinn. With five minutes to go, Walshaw doubled the lead as he found himself in acres of space behind a high Nantwich backline, and spotting Quinn off his line, he was able to dink the ball over the youngster and ensure that Farsley took all three points on a cold and overcast day in Yorkshire.
Joel Stair and Matt Bell were rested ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Kettering, with the latter only featuring on the bench.
Nantwich dominated the first half and their first chance came just three minutes in as a Dabbers free-kick was taken by Courtney Wildin, who almost found David Forbes. However, Forbes was brought down and wasn’t able to get a shot away.
Nantwich played a high-pressured attacking game in the early stages with Forbes playing in a centre-forward role, not unlike his role last weekend against Nuneaton in the FA Cup.
The first clear chance from the hosts came after ten minutes as Adam Priestly caught the Nantwich defence off-guard, but his shot hit the side netting.
Nantwich twice had the ball in the net, but twice they were disallowed. The first came after eleven munutes as Graeme McKibben in the Farsley net was off his line, and Sean Cooke fired one from twenty-five yards that ripped the net, yet his effort was called back for a prior foul on McKibben.
After fourteen minutes, Forbes was in behind the defence, but as the ball came over, he took a heavy touch as he attempted to cushion the ball down, and it was sent back to the ‘keeper.
Joe Mwasile put in a driven cross towards Sean Cooke after fifteen minutes, and despite two men covering Cooke, he was still able to get a shot away – albeit it a backheeled effort – which was deflected for a corner.
The corner was taken by Cooke, whose curled effort into the box had nobody on the receiving end and was cleared, but only as far as Caspar Hughes. The ex-Fylde midfielder’s shot was blocked towards Cooke, who subsequently was brought down for a free-kick.
It was a scrappy game throughout, and another Nantwich free-kick was awarded after twenty minutes. Hall took the set-piece and floated it towards Harry Clayton, who was unable to get a shot away.
A few moments later and Mwasile had the ball on the left-hand side. He took a quick and powerful run before a low cross towards Clayton with the striker’s shot parried by McKibben with the Farsley skipper able to grab the ball at the second attempt.
A free-kick was awarded in favour of the hosts after a late trip by a Nantwich defender. Walshaw took the set-piece and almost curled it in, but a cracking effort from Quinn saw the youngster stop it with his feet before diving on the ball to prevent the goal.
Priestly picked up a knock with a few minutes to go in the first period and Farsley manager Adam Lakeland was forced into a change, taking off Priestly and replacing him with Kurt Harris.
On the stroke of the break, Nantwich again came very close to taking the lead. A spell of possession on the left-hand side saw Wildin and Mwasile combine well, but a heavy touch from Sam Hall had the hosts regain the ball.
Adam Lakeland was clearly unhappy with his side’s first-half performance and Farsley came into the second half with a high-pressure attack.
The Celts’ first chance of the second half saw Isaac Baldwin’s low and powerful cross blocked by Troy Bourne for a corner. The corner found an attacker, but his header was hit poorly and went wide.
Nantwich’s first chance of the second half saw Hall take an audacious effort from thirty-five yards as he struck the ball on the half-volley, but his effort was over the bar.
After an hour, a quick free-kick for the hosts left Nantwich short at the back, but admirable defensive work from Toby Mullarkey kept the game level as a lovely clearance put the attack to bed.
Nantwich were again unlucky not to take the lead as Sean Cooke was sent through, but a heavy touch from the attacking midfielder denied him the chance to take a shot.
With twenty-minutes to go, Walshaw found space on the left-hand side, and was able to slip the ball past Quinn to give Farsley the lead.
Following the goal, Nantwich made their first change as Harry Clayton was replaced by Steve Jones.
The Dabbers could’ve had a swift reply as Hall dipped the ball into the box from a free-kick towards Mullarkey, but the defender couldn’t get his head to it.
A quick break from the hosts found Nantwich short at the back, but pressure was forced onto Ben Atkinson and the Farsley midfielder’s shot was poor and off-target.
With ten minutes to go, Sean Cooke won a free-kick in his ideal territory. He stepped up to take the free-kick on the edge of the box, but it hit the wall and Farsley were able to start a quick counter-attack.
Atkinson found open space, but as soon as he had a man pressuring him, he gave it to Walshaw, but despite being in acres of space and having plenty of time, his shot was terrible and wide of the left post.
However, Walshaw wouldn’t have to wait long for the second goal as Nantwich’s attacking game backfired. The league top scorer was in plenty of space, and spotting Quinn off his line, he chipped it over the ‘keeper to double the lead.
The Dabbers attempted to make something happen late on, helped by Jordan Davies, who replaced Jamie Morgan with four minutes to go.
A few moments later, Walshaw could have had a hat-trick as he stepped up to take a free-kick on the edge of the Nantwich area. However, Quinn was on-hand to tip the ball onto the bar and prevent the third goal.
Davies made an impact after coming off the bench, as he was through in the nintieth minute, but his shot hit the ground and bounced wide.
In the second minute of added time, Nantwich again had the ball in the back of the net as the Farsley keeper dropped the ball, and Davies was able to head it easily into the back of the net. However, the referee adjudged a foul on McKibben and disallowed the goal.
Despite two more minutes to play, Nantwich couldn’t make anything of it and the referee blew the final whistle to hand Nantwich their fifth consecutive league defeat. Though The Dabbers probably had the better of the game, a lack of cutting edge in the final third saw Dave Cooke’s men head back to Cheshire with a loss.
Nantwich’s scheduled game with Stourbridge this Tuesday has been postponed in order to give both sides more time to prepare for the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round, where Dave Cooke’s men face Kettering in an attempt to reach the First Round Proper for only the second time in their history.
Nantwich: Quinn, Morgan (Davies 85′), Wildin, Bourne, Mullarkey, Hall (C), Mwasile, Hughes, Clayton (S. Jones 70′), Cooke, Forbes
Subs not used: Bell, Rowntree, Griggs
Farsley: McKibbin, Porritt, Baldwin, C. Atkinson, Ellis (C), Clayton, Priestly (Harris 43′), B. Atkinson, Walshaw (Bett 87′), Parkin, Walker
Subs not used: Pollard, Trennery
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