Nantwich Town fell to a 1-0 loss in their final home game of the 2016/17 season, as Workington were able to inflict a defeat that leaves the Dabbers still needing a point to secure their top 5 spot.
It was a scrappy game throughout, as the Reds came with a clear game plan to sit deep and frustrate the Dabbers. Neither side could find any clear openings in the first half, but just as the half seemed set to end goalless, Jack Ryan pinched a goal from a free kick to give Workington the advantage.
The Dabbers pushed hard in the 2nd half and had chances through Wayne Riley and Curtis Jones, but were unable to find the equaliser as the Reds somehow were able to hold on for all 3 points. With other results, it leaves the Dabbers needing a draw to secure a top 5 spot with 2 games left to do it.
Phil Parkinson made 4 changes for the game. Josh Hancock returned to the starting XI, making his 100th appearance for the club. Krystian Burzynski started in goal, replacing Dan Gyollai who was away on international duty. Tom Peers and Joe Mwasile also started, with Ryan Brooke, Steve Jones and Osebi Abadaki dropping to the bench.
Tom Peers had the first chance of the game as he fired straight at Reds keeper Aaran Taylor from distance. There weren’t many chances in the opening stages, but Workington tested Burzynski with a shot from a tight angle from Rob Wilson which the stopper parried away from danger.
At the other end, Matt Bell curled an effort at Taylor as both teams struggled to carve out clear openings. Burzynski made another comfortable from Wilson in what was a scrappy contest, with both sides defences on top. Ben Harrison then made his trademark mazy run down the left wing. He then sat up a cross that just eluded Bell in the 6 yard box.
There was a blow for the Dabbers shortly afterwards as Harrison then went down with an apparent ankle injury. He looked in a fair bit of pain and it was immediately clear he wouldn’t be able to continue. He was brought off and Joel Stair came on to replace him.
The game ticked along towards half time with still not much to report on. Workington had perhaps shaded posssession, but neither keeper had truly been tested. With 5 minutes to go, the away side pinched a goal from a set piece.
A free kick from the left was floated into the Dabbers box and Jack Ryan rose above his man to power a header past the diving Burzynski, who could do little about it. The final chance of the half came right on half time as Tom Peers blasted a free kick at Taylor, who parried the ball and collected at the 2nd attempt.
The Dabbers started the 2nd brightly as they looked for a way back into the game. They started to get a foot on the ball and dominate possession. They were however getting little joy against the opposition, who were defending deep as they looked to protect their slender lead.
Parky made his final subs, as Steve Jones and Vinny Mukendi came on to try and turn the game in the Dabbers favour. Off came Joe Mwasile and Tom Peers. Sam Hall had the Dabbers first sight of goal in the 2nd half as he dragged a shot well wide of goal from the edge of the area.
The Reds made their first sub as goalscorer Ryan was taken off for Nathan Waterston. 2 minutes later and the Dabbers were inches from a leveller. Mukendi played in Wayne Riley and his shot from just inside the penalty area took a deflection and bobbled just wide of the far post with Taylor scrambling.
From the resulting corner, Curtis Jones met the cross and his head looked to have Taylor beat, but the Reds stopper was able to claw the ball away off the line. It was an excellent save and it denied the Dabbers a leveller. The home side had a spring in their step and a ball over the top released Steve Jones, but he couldn’t keep the ball under control as he looked to round the onrushing Taylor.
Workington made another sub as Sam Joel came off for Anthony Wright. With 15 minutes to go, Sam Smith went into the book for holding back Mukendi as he tried to break down the wing. From the resulting free kick, Stair met the cross but his flicked header went narrowly wide.
With just under 10 minutes to go, Touray was clattered on the edge of the box and his momentum took him inside the area. Whilst there were shouts for a penalty, the ref gave a free kick. Steve Jones floated the set piece over the bar. Taylor was finally called for time wasting by the referee, having taken too long over goal kicks on a number of occasions.
The Dabbers continued to push for an equaliser, but again found the visitors in stubborn form. The last chance came when a shot into the area and it narrowly missed the outstretched leg of Stair, before rolling out for a goal kick. Workington were able to run down the clock and record a vital win in their search for a top 5 spot.
Nantwich Town: Krystian Burzynski, Andy White, Ibou Touray, Ben Harrison(Joel Stair, 25), Curtis Jones, Sam Hall(c), Josh Hancock, Wayne Riley, Tom Peers(Vinny Mukendi, 55), Matt Bell, Joe Mwasile(Steve Jones, 55)
Unused subs: Ryan Brooke, Osebi Abadaki
Workington: Aaran Taylor(c), Jake Simpson, Sam Smith, Dan Wordsworth, Josh Calvert, James Earl, Scott Allison, Rob Wilson, Jack Ryan(Nathan Waterston, 61), Sam Joel(Anthony Wright, 70), Conor Tinnion
Unused subs: Gari Rowntree, Kyle May, Dave Symington
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