By Steve Sharman:
Two first half goals ensured Nantwich Town progressed to the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup after a 2-1 win at home to Halesowen Town.
Strikes from Sean Cooke and then Sam Hall in the final six minutes of the first half were enough for the Dabbers who defended resolutely in the second period after the visitors pulled one back through Kaiman Anderson.
Phil Parkinson started with the same side that drew at Halesowen at the weekend, with the visitors making three changes.
The Dabbers started brightly and looked to find the early goal as a curling cross from Sean Cooke was heading for Ryan Brooke at the back post but Kyle Haynes did well to clear.
Despite spending most of the first half with ten men behind the ball, Jordan Goddard found himself in on goal but after hesitating the opportunity to have a shot bypassed the forward, with the Dabbers able to clear.
Nantwich then forced Yeltz keeper Daniel Platt into his first save of the game as he superbly palmed away Ibou Touray’s powerful effort after Theo Stair had played him in.
But the hosts then had the perfect chance to take the lead on 15 minutes as Halesowen midfielder Daniel Bragoli was adjudged to have handled in the box by referee Aaron Bannister.
Up stepped Cooke whose powerful effort was palmed away by Platt who guessed right and denied the midfielder his tenth goal of the season.
Cooke then curled his next effort over the bar after racing clear on goal having been played in by Wayne Riley who had broke clear after a Halesowen corner.
Matt Bell then saw his swerving half volley comfortably saved by Platt as the Yeltz continued to frustrate the Dabbers.
However on 39 minutes the hosts did take a deserved lead as after receiving the ball from Touray, Cooke waltzed his way past a couple of defenders before calmly slotting past Platt.
It was two six minutes later as skipper Sam Hall unleashed an unstoppable 30-yard effort that flew past Platt and into the top right corner to give his side a firm grip on the game.
Having gone into the break two goals down, Halesowen began the second period brightly and went close early on through Kaiman Anderson who shot wide of the post after the ball had fallen kindly for the striker.
This was the closest the Yeltz came in the opening exchanges of the half as the Dabbers looked to increase the lead but substitute Josh Hancock saw his curling effort fly narrowly wide of the post.
Curtis Jones then saw his close range header brilliantly kept out by Platt before Matt Bell fired the loose ball inches wide of the post.
Goalkeeper Dave Parton was then penalised for handling outside of his box by Bannister who showed a yellow card to the stopper, but the visitors failed to take advantage of the free kick as James Hancocks fired the resulting set piece well wide of the target.
Parkinson then brought on summer signing Tim Sanders for his first appearance for the club, with the midfielder replacing goalscorer Cooke.
The visitors pulled one back on 72 minutes through Anderson who flicked the ball past Parton from close range after getting to Bragoli’s cross ahead of his marker.
However the hosts continued to look to increase the lead and Sanders nearly marked his debut with a goal but his shot went inches past the post after being teed up by Hancock.
With the game entering the final ten minutes of the game, the Yeltz continued to look for an equaliser with long balls and crosses into the box but the Dabbers’ defence held firm.
Bragoli shot wide from the edge of the box with substitute Ethan Delaney firing a low effort across the face of goal as Halesowen looked to nab a second goal.
Up the other end Sanders played in fellow sub Osebi Abadaki but the winger’s shot was blocked by the legs of Platt as the game entered five minutes of stoppage time.
The visitors did have one final chance in the dying seconds as Goddard’s strike flew past the post but that was as close as they got as Bannister brought the game to an end, meaning the Dabbers will now host Stourbridge in the fourth qualifying round on Saturday 15th October at the Weaver Stadium.
Nantwich Town: Parton, White, Touray, C. Jones, Harrison, Bell, Riley, Hall, Brooke (O. Abadaki 82′), Cooke (Sanders 69′), Stair (Hancock 46′)
Subs not used: Quinn (GK), Walker, Griggs
Halesowen Town: Platt, Haynes (Morrison 79′), Hancocks, Denny, Sho-Silva, Charlton, Melvin, Bragoli, Anderson, Goddard, Cleet (Delaney 59′)
Subs not used: Griffiths, Colley.
Photos: Jonathan White
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