By Ryan Batty:
A second-half fightback from Mickleover will have left Nantwich wondering what could have been, as they fell to a 2-1 defeat on a bitter afternoon at the Weaver Stadium.
Courtney Wildin gave Nantwich the lead after eleven minutes with a superb strike from distance, and the Dabbers took the lead into the interval. However, in the second half, Mickleover came out all guns blazing and scored two within ten minutes of the restart.
A free-kick from John McGrath found Pablo Mills at the far post, who was able to head home powerfully, and Andy Dales completed the turnaround as he unlocked the defence and rounded an oncoming Fabian Spiess to tap it into an empty net.
There were two changes to the Dabbers’ lineup, as David Forbes and Sam Hall returned to the side in place of Curtis Strong and Clayton McDonald, the latter of whom had picked up a knock against Sutton in midweek.
The absence of McDonald meant that Caspar Hughes went to right-back with Troy Bourne partnering Joel Stair at centre-back, and Hall went into a three-man midfield with Sean Cooke and Matt Bell, while Forbes, Joe Mwasile and Jordan Cole led the line for Dave Cooke’s men.
The first chance of the game came for Hughes, who picked up the ball on the right-hand side and curled the ball towards goal, but unfortunately, he couldn’t find the goal to deny what would have been an excellent first goal upon his return to the club.
However, Nantwich wouldn’t have to wait much longer to take the lead, as after eleven minutes, Wildin picked up the ball just past the halfway line and ran a few yards before firing the ball into the top right-hand corner as the home support leapt into delight.
Just a few minutes later, Cole almost doubled the lead after he was threaded in behind the defence, but he just couldn’t get the shot away as King snatched the ball from his feet.
The next fifteen minutes or so passed largely without any major chances, but, after just before the half-hour mark, Bell caught the ball twenty-five yards out and curled one towards the net, but it unfortunately went wide of the post.
With ten minutes until the interval, Nantwich had a corner that dropped to Stair, but due to the oncoming pressure, Stair was forced to release the ball quicker than he would have liked and the ball rolled wide of King’s left post.
That was all the action the first half had to offer and the two sides went into the break with Nantwich leading by a goal.
Nantwich made a half-time substitution as Joe Mwasile was replaced by Curtis Strong.
The visitors came into the second half all guns blazing and had scored within two minutes of the restart. Forbes went in strongly on Ben Turner and the referee adjudged a foul. McGrath stepped up to take the free-kick and whipped the ball towards the back post. Pablo Mills was there unmarked at the far post and was able to head powerfully past Spiess to level the scores.
Just five minutes later, Andy Dales picked up the ball between the box and the halfway line, and made a driving run before taking the ball past an oncoming Spiess. Dales was then able to tap it into an empty net to complete Mickleover’s turnaround.
Forbes had gone down before the last goal and looked shaken up, and as a result, had to be substituted, and his replacement was Jamie Morgan. Morgan would slide to full-back while Hughes would slot into his usual position in the midfield.
Nantwich looked to get back into the game, a chance coming just after the hour mark as Strong made a driving run on the wing, using tricky footwork to get past his marker on the edge of the box. He cut inside and had room for a shot, but it was unfortunately blocked.
Mickleover made their first change a minute later as Evan Garnett was replaced by Jimmy Phillips.
The next ten minutes passed largely without any major chances, but with twenty minutes to go, an altercation between Wildin and Grocott earned the Dabbers a free-kick on the edge of the area. Cooke fired the ball into the box, but no-one was able to get forward and get on the end of the cross.
After seventy-five minutes, Sports made their second change of the afternoon, bringing on Ollie Mulders in place of Clinton Morrison.
The rest of the game was played mostly in Nantwich’s half by the visitors, but some good defending kept Sports from extending their lead. However, Nantwich weren’t able to get back into the game despite some chances in the last few minutes.
Despite four minutes of added time, the Dabbers weren’t able to get a goal to level the proceedings, and Dave Cooke’s men fell to their second defeat in a week.
Nantwich are back in action on New Year’s Day as they make the trip to Leicestershire to face Barwell for a 3.00pm KO.
Nantwich: Spiess, Hughes, Wildin, Stair, Bourne, Hall, Mwasile (Strong 45′), Bell, Cole, Cooke, Forbes (Morgan 58′)
Subs not used: Burzynski, Ja. Phillips, Walley
Mickleover: King, Grocott, Mills, Burgin, Turner, McGrath, Scott, Dales, Grayson, Morrison (Mulders 75′), Garnett (Ji. Phillips 62′)
Subs not used: Palmer, Morris
Referee: Mr D Locker
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