Jack Jones reports on the Dabbers draw at home to Hednesford Town.
Nantwich Town made it 6 unbeaten as they battled out a hard fought 1-1 draw against promotion candidates Hednesford Town. The draw also gave the Dabbers their first point of the season at home and represented their reward for what had been a strong performance. They forged ahead early on, with Matt Bell hitting a well placed shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. They held firm under Hednesford pressure and could have extended their lead in the first half, with Sean Cooke twice going close.
Hednesford levelled though shortly after half time however, as Gurjit Singh pounced on a cross to rifle in an equaliser. Both sides had chances late on to win the game, but they were forced to settle for a well contested draw, which was probably the fair result on reflection.
Boss Phil Parkinson was forced into 1 change from the side that started against Marine in the FA Cup replay on Tuesday, with Osebi Abadaki missing out through injury. In his place came Josh Gordon. There was also a change on the bench, as Steve Jones(also injured) was replaced by Troy Bourne. This marked the first time Troy had been named on the bench for a senior team game this season. Hednesford once again started midweek goalscorer Gurjit Singh in their starting XI, with former Dabber Cohen Bramall also in the side.
The Dabbers started the brighter of the two teams and went in front less than 5 minutes into the game. A free kick wide on the left was whipped into the Hednesford penalty area and the ball was cleared to the edge of the box. Matt Bell was in the right place at the right time to run onto the loose ball and side foot into the bottom corner from 20 yards to give the Dabbers an early lead. It was an excellent finish from Bell and gave him his first goal of the season.
Hednesford looked to hit back, as Bramall got down the Dabbers right and sent in a dangerous cross, but it evaded everyone from the away side. Nantwich had the next clear chance though, as Stair cut inside and curled a shot on goal from 25 yards. Dan Crane in the Hednesford goal had to be alert, palming the effort away for a throw in. Nantwich’s red hot goalscorer Sean Cooke was next to go close, as he hit a vicious shot from the edge of the box that zipped just wide.
Ibou Touray and Bell went into the book for late challenges as the ref made himself unpopular with the home fans. On 18 minutes, Cooke almost doubled the lead. He was played in by Ryan Brooke and he lobbed the keeper from the edge of the box, but the ball bounced agonisingly just wide of the post with Crane a helpless spectator.
Things then became very scrappy as the ref gave a number of free kicks, which halted the momentum of the game. Danny Glover headed a cross into the box over as the away side saw more of the ball, but struggled to create any clear cut chances. There were virtually no goalmouth action through the latter period of the half bar a shot from Ashley Sammons which hit Singh and deflected well wide of goal. The Dabbers held firm to take a slender lead into break.
After holding firm for the entire first half, the Dabbers unfortunately conceded a minute into the 2nd half. A cross into the box looped over Andy White and landed at the feet of Singh. He was able to control, cut back inside and hit a shot into the roof of the net to give the visitors a leveller. The Dabbers came back strong, as Stair put a free kick just wide. Brooke then looked to break in on goal, but his route was blocked James Mutton, who was shown a yellow card. The resulting free kick was headed narrowly over by Brooke.
Both sides made changes after the hour mark, with Josh Hancock and Dave Walker coming on for Josh Gordon and Brooke respectively. In amongst the subs, Touray was picked out superbly by Hall on the left wing. He cut inside the penalty area, beating his man, but could only skew his shot wide. Hancock made an impact, making some smart turns and plays which helped bring the game to life. There was a let off on 71 minutes for the Dabbers though, when the ball bounced around their box, but it was thrashed over by the away side.
Theo Stair came off for Wayne Riley as the game ticked down. After what had been another scrappy half up until that point, the game burst into life in the final 10 minutes. First Walker found Riley with a cross and latter directed a header at goal. However, Crane was somehow able to make the stop and keep the score level. The game became more frantic as both teams looked for a winner. Singh and Sean Geddes shot over at one end whilst Dave Walker saw 2 chances missed at the other. First a chip over the keeper was cleared, then he put a header over from 6 yards out.
There was more action in stoppage time as the Dabbers were almost caught out twice. First they lost possession and Hednesford countered, but some excellent defending denied them a shot on goal. Then the ball hit the ref as the Dabbers looked to attack and that sent the Pitmen away. They were unable to fashion a chance though and despite the best efforts of both teams, the game finished 1-1, leaving the sides to settle for a hard fought point.
Starting XI: Dave Parton, Andy White, Ben Harrison, Curtis Jones, Ibou Touray, Matt Bell, Sam Hall(c), Theo Stair(Wayne Riley, 71), Sean Cooke, Josh Gordon(Josh Hancock, 59), Ryan Brooke(Dave Walker, 68)
Subs not used: Troy Bourne, Godwin Abadaki
Yellow Cards: Touray(17), Bell(19), Brooke(61), Cu.Jones(82)
Starting XI: Dan Crane, Lewis Wright, Cohen Bramall, Tom Thorley(c), James Mutton(Michael Williams, 59), Calum Flanagan, Gurjit Singh, Simeon Maye, Danny Glover(Sean Geddes, 71), Ashley Sammons(Tristian Dunkley, 80), George Carline
Subs not used: Reiss Wagstaff, Joel Logan
Yellow Card: Mutton(51)
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