By James Brown:
A much-changed Nantwich Town side slipped to a narrow 1-0 defeat against Stafford Rangers at The Weaver Stadium in the Dabbers final home league game of the season.
In a first half which was lacking in attacking football, the Dabbers created their best opportunity on 19 minutes to break the deadlock when captain James Lawrie delivered a free-kick low into the box falling into the path of Callum Saunders however his flick was kept out by a quick reaction save from Stafford keeper Adam Sivitar.
The visitors had good spells of possession throughout the first half and had their best opening just before the half hour mark when a set-piece was nodded down for Jake Charles to turn in but he failed to direct his effort on target. With a scuffed shot being one of the major talking points, shows it was a first half to forget.
After the break both sides showed signs of life, beginning with Nantwich centre half Clayton McDonald who went for goal from inside his own half minutes after the restart however it unfortunately didn’t test Sivitar. A good chance fell the way of Lawrie moments later as the Dabbers provided more of a threat in the Stafford box, dragging a half volley wide from close range.
Following some important blocks from McDonald and Troy Bourne at the other end, Nantwich had another opportunity to open the scoring when Toby Mullarkey went on a marauding run, breezing past the Stafford defence before firing low just wide of the left hand post.
What turned out to be the winner came on 57 minutes following an excellent piece of goalkeeping from Lloyd Allinson. The loanee keeper did brilliantly to get a hand to a rasping Joe Cuff strike however the rebound was driven towards the back post for Charles to tap in unmarked and put Stafford ahead.
Steve Jones, Joe Malkin and Caspar Hughes all came on for Nantwich after falling behind in an attempt to salvage a draw however nothing seemed to be clicking on the day. The visitors pressed for a second and would have done so if it wasn’t for some vital defending by Man of the Match Troy Bourne.
The Dabbers huffed and puffed in the final stages in front of a brilliant 605 supporters on a sunny Easter Monday but it wasn’t to be as Stafford claimed the three points which secured their safety in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
Nantwich will now be focused and determined to make it back-to-back Cheshire Senior Cup Final victories on Wednesday evening when they face Cammell Laird 1907 at Altrincham FC (7:45pm kick-off).
Nantwich Town: Lloyd Allinson, Nathan Brown, Kallam Boyle, Joe Davis, Clayton McDonald (Caspar Hughes 66’), Troy Bourne, James Lawrie (c), Toby Mullarkey, Danny Glover, Callum Saunders (Steve Jones 60’), Luke Walsh (Joe Malkin 66’)
Subs not used: Louis Barnes, James Hawkins (GK)
Stafford Rangers: Adam Sivitar, Sim Thandi, Matt Hill, Luke Jones (c), Daniel Burns, Andrai Jones, Louis Briscoe (Andrew Haworth 60’), Tom Thorley, Jake Charles (Ben Mills 84’), Jack Sherratt (Peter Williams 79’), Joe Cuff
Subs not used: Jed Davies, Sam Coulson
Referee: Mr Darren Rogers
Photo courtesy of Mark Welton« Back to all news