By Steven Dale
A hat trick from Sean Cooke and a first-minute header from Joel Stair was enough for Nantwich to overcome the challenge of Marine on a bright sunny afternoon at The Weaver Stadium, as they ran out 4-1 winners.
The home side, fresh from their victory over Rushall Olympic last weekend, hit the front foot early on. Just one minute on the clock when Joel Stair opened. Rising highest to convert a cleverly flighted corner from Sean Cooke, the central defender put Nantwich firmly in the driving seat. The Dabbers went on to run riot in the first half, creating chances at will.
They doubled their lead when Mwasile was fouled by Marine keeper Calvin Hare and Cooke blasted home from the spot. Cooke added a 2nd, although Osebi Abadaki deserves a lot of credit, as he broke free down the left and put an inch perfect ball on a plate for Cooke to tap home after 30 minutes.
Marine made changes at the break and came out more organised in the 2nd half. They reduced the arrears as Zac Thompson pulled one back. They couldn’t sustain their fightback though and the Dabbers reasserted their dominance, with Cooke killing all resistance with a beautifully weighted free kick to complete his hat-trick and give the Dabbers a comprehensive win.
There were 3 new signings in the squad as injuries, suspensions and absences meant Dan Gyollai, Ben Harrison and Ibou Touray missed out. Kristian Burzynski returned in goal after spending a large part of last season with the club, whilst Joel Stair came in for Harrison in defence. Andy White shifted to LB, with Wayne Riley coming in at RB. New boy Tom Peers started upfront after the club only announced his signing a few hours earlier. Finally, another new striker in Oscar Durnin was on the bench.
The Dabbers were fast out of the blocks and they had the lead barely a minute into the game. After Peers won a corner, Cooke floated the ball in and Joel Stair beat his man to power a header home. It was his first for the club and put them ahead early on. Alex Davies went into the book on 6 minutes for a poorly timed challenge on Andy White.
The Dabbers almost doubled their lead in the same way they scored the first, but this time Curtis Jones could only head over Cooke’s corner. A brilliant training ground set piece routine presented the next Nantwich chance, which followed a foul on Peers on the edge of the penalty area.
Some quick thinking from Sean Cooke and smart movement from Matt Bell combining, and Bell’s eventual effort stung the hands of Callum Hare from the edge of the penalty area. Osebi Abadaki cut inside and curled just wide as the Dabbers continued to cut the visitors apart.
After making three smart saves during a dominant 15-minute spell from the hosts, a rush of blood from Hare would see his side fall further behind. A lofted delivery was flicked on by Peers and Mwasile got to the ball ahead of Hare. Hare brought down Mwasile and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. Cooke doubled the lead from the spot.
Marine had their first effort on goal when top scorer Danny Mitchley put a close range free kick straight at Burzynski. The Dabbers weren’t to be denied though and they made it 3-0 after 30 minutes. Having picked up the ball 30 yards from goal, a powerful run from Abadaki followed. His smart resulting cross found the waiting Sean Cooke at the far post to tap home. Things went from bad to worse for Marine when Mitchley was forced off after landing awkwardly on his ankle shortly before half time.
Marine, however, did return after the half time break a lot stronger and reduced the deficit with just seven minutes into the second half. They broke quickly and the ball was played to Zac Thompson at the far post. He cooly slotted between the legs of Buzynski to offer his side a route back into the contest.
Having seen a penalty appeal waved away by referee James Oldham shortly afterwards, Marine continued to push. Right-back Peter Wylie came closest, with his long-range drive flying just only inches past Burzynski’s left-hand post.
Marine were threatening to make a game of it, but the Dabbers eventually got to grips with their opponents and turned the game back in their favour. Matt Bell’s deflected shot was straight at Hare before Joe Mwasile made way for Matty Ashbrook, who was making his home debut. Ashbrook was in the thick of the action barely 10 minutes after he was brought on. He worked some space on the left and drilled a shot on goal, but Hare was down well to make the save. Parky made his 2nd change, bringing on Ryan Brooke for Osebi Abadaki, who had a fine game.
Ashbrook again came close to scoring. Cooke put a cross into the box and the ball fell to the winger. He tricked his way past a defender, but his shot on goal was blocked and cleared away. The Dabbers did eventually have their 4th and it came through that man Cooke, who restored the three-goal advantage and completed his hat trick.
He won a free kick right on the edge of the box and stepped up to take. The crowd just watched in anticipation as he stood over the free kick and he would go on to curl home brilliantly into the top corner. It gave Hare no chance in the Marine goal. The former Crewe Alexandra youngster has now scored 5 goals in his last two games. It was also his 2nd hat-trick of the season and his 19th goal in all competitions.
The final Dabbers change came as Sam Hall picked up a knock and was withdrawn as a procaution. Troy Bourne came on in his place, making his league debut. The Dabbers weren’t done and looked for a 5th in the final 10 minutes. Wayne Riley shot over from a tight angle after Cooke played him on goal, whilst Peers made a strong lung busting run from the half way line all the way to the Marine penalty area. He wasn’t able to get a shot off though.
Marine had a couple of half chances, with a scramble in the box falling to Burzynski and then another shot from Hamilton testing the keeper, who got down well to keep the Dabbers 3 goal lead intact. The home side closed out the game to record back to back wins and move up to 7th, now just 1 point off the top 5.
Nantwich will next be in action this forthcoming Tuesday and the visitors will Frickley Athletic. Please note, as this is a re-arranged fixture, all adults can attend the game for just £5.
Nantwich Town: Kristian Burzynski, Wayne Riley, Andy White, Curtis Jones, Joel Stair, Sam Hall(c)(Troy Bourne, 81), Joe Mwasile(Matty Ashbrook, 60), Matt Bell, Tom Peers, Sean Cooke, Osebi Abadaki(Ryan Brooke, 65)
Unused subs: Steve Jones, Oscar Durnin
Goalscorers: Joel Stair(1), Sean Cooke(19, 30, 74)
Marine: Calvin Hare, Peter Wylie, Andrew Nicholas, Michael Grogan, James Foley, Adam Hughes, Craig Lindfield(Will Doherty, 85), Zac Thompson(Sean Meyler, 70), Danny Mitchley(c)(Kenny Strickland, 40), Matty Hamilton, Alex Davies
Unused subs: Dean Porter, Sean Hessey
Bookings: Grogan, Davies
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