By Ryan Batty:
On an overcast afternoon in Lincolnshire, Nantwich Town earned a good point on the road as they drew 0-0 with playoff-chasing Gainsborough Trinity at the Northolme on Saturday.
While both sides had chances to grab a winning goal, it was perhaps Ashley Worsfold’s saved penalty which was the best chance of the game, but Will Jaaskelainen’s fifth penalty save in a Nantwich shirt denied Trinity’s leading scorer of extending his tally.
Manager Dave Cooke made two changes from the side that lost to Witton Albion on New Year’s Day, as Louis Barnes’ injury saw him unable to make the trip, and was replaced by Troy Bourne, while Matt Bell returned from suspension in place of Nathan Cotterell, who was dropped to the bench.
The first chance of the game fell to Joe Malkin after four minutes, after a poor backpass towards Trinity goalkeeper Jon Stewart saw the young striker chase the ball down, almost reaching it, though the goalkeeper was able to recover the error and clear it away from the Dabbers’ December Bowland Brewery Player of the Month.
A few moments later, the Dabbers created a good move down the right, as Bourne put in a good cross towards the near post, though a mis-communication saw the chance go begging as Malkin was at the far post.
The first clear-cut chance of the game fell to the hosts as the ball was spread out wide to Jonny Margetts, but the striker’s effort was just over the bar.
Worsfold could have turned the ball in just before the twenty-five minute mark, as his shot beat Jaaskelainen, but Joel Stair’s goal-line block prevented the hosts from taking the lead.
Stair could have scored a few minutes after, as Sean Cooke’s free-kick found the centre-back’s head, but the header was unable to get under the legs of Stewart.
The hosts went up the other end of the field straight away, as a mistake from Troy Bourne saw a Trinity man go down, and the referee adjudged the challenge to be a penalty. However, Worsfold’s spot-kick was struck poorly, Jaaskelainen guessing the right way and the Finnish keeper saved another one.
However, the hard work could have been un-done as Simon Russell was allowed in through on goal, but the attacker’s effort was poorly struck and scuffed wide of the post.
The main man of the first half was Jonny Margetts for the hosts, who had two further good efforts to take the lead, one of which was over the bar, the other was blocked by Toby Mullarkey.
Despite one additional minute, the first half ended without a goal and the two sides went in at the break deadlocked.
The first chance of the second half came to the hosts as Worsfold’s header was hit towards the ground and into the arms of Jaaskelainen.
A moment later, Malkin and Matt Bell linked up on the far side, the latter hitting an effort towards goal that was well-saved by Stewart.
A Sean Cooke free-kick found the head of Bell, but the midfielder’s header wasn’t as powerful as he would’ve liked, and it went past the far post.
Margetts was through on goal on the left-hand side, but Bourne’s superb tackle forced a Trinity corner, but the set-piece was curled in, over the top of the heads in the box, and out for a goal-kick.
Cooke had a free-kick with twenty to go, but it was curled over the wall and into the arms of Stewart.
A few minutes later, Trinity man Ioan Evans was put in the book for blocking a Jaaskelainen goal-kick.
With a few minutes remaining, Alex Byrne’s free-kick was ever so close to finding the net, but Mullarkey’s clearance off the line ensured that the scores remained level.
Caspar Hughes and substitute Callum Saunders both had chances in the last five minutes, but despite four minutes of added time, the Dabbers were unable to find a late winner.
Nantwich look to claim their first win of the New Year when they travel to Gresty Road on Wednesday to face Crewe Alexandra in their first step to defend their Cheshire Senior Cup crown.
Kick-off is at 7.45pm, and admission is priced at £5 for adults, and £1 for concessions. However, Crewe have urged that tickets can only be bought on the gate, there will be no tickets sold in advance.
Gainsborough: Stewart, Austin, Bordon, Clarke (C), Evans, Stainfield, Byrne, Middleton (Reeves 70′), Worsfold (Wilson 79′), Russell, Margetts
Subs not used: Ture, Maguire
Nantwich: Jaaskelainen, Morgan, Bourne, Stair, Mullarkey, Bell, Mwasile (Saunders 79′), Hughes (C), Malkin, Cooke, Lawrie (Glover 74′)
Subs not used: Phillips, Cotterell, Walsh
Ref: Mr G Myers