By James Brown:
A last-minute header from Jake Beesley saw Nantwich fall to a narrow 2-1 defeat to National League outfit Salford City on Tuesday evening at the Weaver Stadium.
The Ammies took the lead after 18 minutes following a spell of pressure on the Nantwich goal, committing a lot of men forward before a few initial clearances fell to Lois Maynard who fired into the roof of the net.
Despite Salford playing some attractive football throughout and showing their National League capabilities, Nantwich more than held their own and after withstanding some pressure in the second half including some important defensive work from Clayton McDonald, and with six minutes to go equalised when a well timed cross picked out substitute Jak Higginbotham who headed home with literally his first touch.
The Dabbers almost looked like grabbing another goal late on when Sam Wakefield’s cross into the six yard box just evaded a Nantwich player before Salford won it following a bit of pinball in the penalty area which resulted in Beesley heading a cross into the bottom corner.
Caspar Hughes captained a Dabbers side that included new signings Danny Glover and James Lawrie in the starting line-up alongside the likes of Joe Mwasile and Matt Bell in midfield. Salford put out a different side in each half which included the experience of Chris Neal, Scott Wiseman, Danny Whitehead and Ashley Hemmings.
Salford were quick out of the blocks on a sunny evening at the Weaver Stadium, controlling possession in the opening moments with a shot cleared off the line by Toby Mullarkey. It took the Dabbers, playing in their new all yellow away kit, a bit of time to settle into the game but eventually they began to get the ball down and created a nice move after thirteen minutes when Mwasile’s cross found Jordan Davies, however his header on target was blocked by a Salford defender.
Glover had the first effort which forced keeper Chris Neal into a save, picking up the ball on the turn under-pressure, but his shot was straight down the middle.
A minute after the chance from Glover, Salford opened the scoring as the visitors poured numbers forward, and a few initial clearances from Nantwich defenders fell into the path of Maynard to slam the ball home past Andy Wycherley. The Dabbers’ keeper needed to be alert soon after to produce a good save after a powerful Salford shot was fired from inside the area.
Heading towards the half hour mark, Glover drove down the left and despite being nudged in the back, the new Nantwich striker was able to deliver a ball into the box showing good strength and accuracy however, the commanding Salford centre half Carl Piergianni was able to clear the danger. The visitors looked a threat on numerous occasions during the first half, this time driving forward and finding themselves in a two-on-one but the opportunity was wasted when an offside flag halted the attack.
This turned out to be the last meaningful event of the first half as Salford went in leading 1-0 at the break.
Following a number of changes for both sides at half-time, Salford almost found the net three minutes into the second half however an excellent tackle from new captain McDonald forced a corner which the visitors then failed to capitalise on. The early stages of the second period didn’t provide many attacking chances for either side, Nantwich were putting a few nice moves together including some good link-up play between Nathan Cotterell and Joe Malkin but it was business as usual for Salford who were keeping large amounts of possession.
Cotterell was causing Salford a lot of problems on the left, putting in a lot of running to beat the right-back and finding Lawrie just outside the box who fired just over the bar. Another neat move involving Cotterell came on the hour, this time linking up with Glover, which saw a pass find Bell, though the midfielder’s effort went wide.
The Ammies continued to play some nice football despite having a new XI on the field, with Mark Shelton whipping in a cross looking for Rory Gaffney but only to be met by McDonald who headed away firmly. With twenty minutes to go, Nantwich changed to a 3-5-2 formation with the addition of Harry Cain who made his way back from Russia for a brief appearance coming on for Glover.
Salford came close again after 75 minutes with a driven effort from the right flashing past the post before they had the ball in the back of the net after Wycherley spilled a shot however the rebound was deemed offside by the assistant referee and disallowed. Former Dabber Ibou Touray also tried his luck to score against his old club with a shot from an angle but it rolled wide.
With six minutes to go after some coming close on a few occasions, Nantwich found an equaliser when Cain won a free-kick following some decent work on the right. The resulting set-piece picked out substitute Higginbotham whose first touch of the game was a bullet header past Salford keeper Max Crocombe. The Dabbers went in search of another with Wakefield pulling a ball back for a shot from Malkin but it wasn’t to be as a Salford block sent them onto a counter.
Following a bit of pinball in the Nantwich box with a matter of seconds to go, the ball was cleared out to Shelton who crossed for Beesley to head past substitute keeper James Hawkins into the bottom left corner to win it for the visitors.
The victory was a deserved one for Salford who had a lot of the ball throughout and showed their potential for the National League this season. It was a very good run-out for the Dabbers who held their own against higher opposition for the second time in four days with plenty of positives to take into the remaining pre-season fixtures.
Next up for Nantwich is the short trip to take on Newcastle Town at Lyme Valley Stadium this coming Saturday 14th July in pre-season action with a 3pm kick-off.
Nantwich Town: Andy Wycherley (James Hawkins), Troy Bourne (Sam Wakefield), Damien Skolorzynski (Clayton McDonald), Joel Stair, Toby Mullarkey (Declan O’Riordan), Caspar Hughes (c) (Ryan Allcock), Joe Mwasile (Nathan Cotterell), Matt Bell, Danny Glover (Jack Higginbotham), James Lawrie (Harry Cain), Jordan Davies (Joe Malkin)
Subs not used: N/A
Salford City (First Half): Chris Neal, Scott Wiseman, Trialist, Liam Hogan (c), Carl Piergianni, Lois Maynard, Danny Whitehead, Ashley Hemmings, Anthony Dudley, Devante Rodney, Tom Walker
Salford City (Second Half): Max Crocombe, Ibou Touray, Jake Lawlor, Nathan Pond, John Smith, Kieran Glynn, Gus Mafuta, Mark Shelton, Rory Gaffney, Nick Haughton, Jake Beesley
Subs not used: N/A
Ref: Conor Brown
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