Nantwich Town progressed to the next round of the Cheshire Senior Cup as goals from Joe Mwasile and Steve Jones gave them a hard fought win away at North West Counties side Runcorn Linnets. The Dabbers went ahead early on as Mwasile beat the offside trap to slot home and put the away side ahead.
In the 2nd half, Steve Jones went through to double the lead and put the Dabbers in a commanding position. However, the Linnets didn’t give up and forced a nervous finish as Steve Foster slotted in to half the advantage. But despite some late pressure from the Linnets, the Dabbers held on to make it 2 away wins in the space of 4 days.
Parky made a number of changes from the side that started against Mickleover. Reece Quinn came in for his first senior start in goal. Steve Jones, Theo Stair, Wayne Riley and Osebi Abadaki also came into the starting XI, as did youngster Cal Jones on the bench.
The game didn’t take long to burst into life, as on 5 minutes, the Linnets won a corner. From the resulting set piece, the ball was swung into the 6 yard box and it flicked off the bar and away. It was a let off for the Dabbers, who proceeded to make the most of that good fortune by scoring immediately afterwards. A ball forward was played into Mwasile, who beat the offside trap to go clear on goal. He calmly slotted the ball under the Linnets keeper Matt Holmes to give the Dabbers an early lead.
On 11 minutes, the Dabbers had a similar let off to the previous corner as another looping cross, this time from a free kick, again clipped the bar, with Quinn getting a touch on the ball to see it on its way. He then had to punch the in swinging corner from under his cross bar as the Linnets continued to test the young stopper.
The Linnets had responded well to falling behind and were starting to see more of the ball. They were unable to fashion any clear chances as the Dabbers held them at bay. Both teams were looking to get the ball down and create chances, but neither side could get a clear sight of goal. Just shy of the half hour mark and the Dabbers should have made it 2. Steve Jones beat the offside trap and went clear of goal. He shot low, but Holmes made a smart stop to keeper the striker out.
Abadaki then beat his man twice, once on either wing and put 2 crosses into the box that failed to pick out an Orange shirt. Sam Hall hit a powerful 30 yard effort, but it was straight at Holmes. The Linnets then had their first shot on target with 10 minutes to go until half time, as a shot came in from the edge of the box, hit a Runcorn player in front and trickled towards goal, but Quinn was in the right place to gather.
The Dabbers were dealt a blow 5 minutes before half time as Ben Harrison was forced off with an ankle injury. Joel Stair moved into central defence, with Josh Hancock coming on and Wayne Riley slotting in at right back. Minutes after Harrison went off, the Dabbers gave away a free kick right on the edge of their box. The well hit free kick was heading in until Quinn got down low to his left to keep the ball out.
The Dabbers cleared a late bit of pressure to see the half, with a Touray shot going over the final chance of the half. The Dabbers held a slender lead heading into the break.
The 2nd half started in a similar manner to the 1st. There was little goalmouth action in the first few minutes before the Dabbers doubled their advantage 6 minutes in. A ball over the top sent Steve Jones clear on goal and he calmly finished past Holmes to put the Dabbers 2 goals to the good. The Linnets looked to respond, but a number of offside calls against their forwards frustrated the home fans.
Abadaki then had 2 chances to add a 3rd. First he went through on goal after a powerful run, but Holmes was out quickly to smother the shot. A few minutes later, he then cut inside and forced Holmes into a smart save after cutting inside and curling a shot destined for the far corner. Parky made his 2nd change, bringing on Cal Jones for goalscorer Mwasile.
At the other end, Quinn had to be alert to punch another corner clear from under the bar. Abadaki had another sight of goal, but this time he put the shot over the bar. The Linnets had a half chance, but skewed the shot badly wide. With 25 minutes to go, Parky made his final change, bringing on Ryan Brooke for Theo Stair.
Brooke had 2 chances in quick succession, as he sidefooted an Abadaki cross over and then held the ball up in the box before swivelling and winning a corner. Just as the game looked to be petering out, the Linnets halved the deficit. A quick move put Steve Foster in goal and he rolled the ball under Quinn to put the Linnets back in the game.
The home side had their tails up and they put a shot wide of goal shortly after. The Dabbers were under pressure as the Linnets threw everything at them looking for an equaliser. They almost got one 10 minutes from time as a shot from the edge of the box by Dan McKenna deflected on goal, but Quinn reacted quickly to make the save.
The Linnets hopes of getting back into the game were dealt a blow when they lost McKenna to injury. He fell awkwardly into the boards behind the goal after challenging with Steve Jones for a ball. After a long period of treatment, he was unable to continue and he had to leave the game with his arm in a sling.
The Dabbers used the extra man to their advantage, as Hancock and Brooke came close to extending their lead. In the end, the 2 goals were enough as the team saw off a spirited Runcorn fightback to emerge winners and progress to the next round.
Runcorn Linnets: Matt Holmes, Daniel McKenna, Zach Alley, Aaron Morris, Michael Simpson, Adam Wade(Paul Jewell, 76), Luke Griffiths, Kyle Hamid(c)(Dan O’Brien, 76), Steve Foster, Paul Shanley, Stuart Wellstead(Mark Houghton, 61).
Subs not used: Chris Lawton, Matt Cross
Nantwich Town: Reece Quinn, Joel Stair, Ibou Touray, Ben Harrison(Josh Hancock, 41), Curtis Jones, Sam Hall(c), Joe Mwasile(Cal Jones, 58), Wayne Riley, Theo Stair(Ryan Brooke, 66), Steve Jones, Osebi Abadaki.
Sub not used: Danny Griggs