By Ryan Batty:
A red card and a penalty against The Dabbers ensured a bad day at the office for Dave Cooke’s men as Nantwich bowed out of the FA Trophy with a 2-0 defeat to Rushall Olympic at Dales Lane.
The men in green were probably the better side throughout the first half, but skipper Sam Hall’s controversial red card led to the first goal, as Rushall man Joe Hull headed past Jaaskelainen on the verge of half-time. A penalty was awarded to Rushall with just under fifteen minutes to go, which Richard Brodie powered in, despite Jaaskelainen guessing right.
The Dabbers were without Matt Bell, Joel Stair and Steve Jones, with the huge FA Cup tie against Stevenage on the horizon, yet Nantwich looked solid all game. Courtney Wildin was on the original teamsheet, but was replaced by new man Alex Morris after Wildin picked up a knock in the warmup.
Nantwich’s first chance came in the sixth minute, as a neat attack formed and saw Harry Clayton find space on the right-hand side, but oncoming pressure saw the former Kidsgrove forward slice the ball wide of goal.
Clayton was heavily involved early on as six minutes his shot was saved with ease by Hill in the Rushall goal, before the Dabbers’ forward struck the woodwork as his curling shot hit the far post after he had cut in from the right onto his left foot.
Rushall’s first chance of the game came after eighteen minutes, as they had the ball in the net – albeit it with the linesman’s flag raised! The referee had to check with the linesman, but confirmed that the goal didn’t stand and the score remained goalless.
Twenty-three minutes in, Nantwich had another great chance as Sean Cooke’s curling free kick was headed into the Rushall box by Sam Hall, before Toby Mullarkey saw his powerful effort brilliantly palmed away by Hill.
With five minutes of the first period remaining, the biggest talking point of the game arose as Sam Hall went in for a strong challenge with Rushall midfielder Sam Whittall.
The home side were clearly unhappy as they ran to confront the Dabbers man and referee Mr Kane who showed a red card to Hall as the visitors were reduced to ten men.
The rest of the first half was spent re-adjusting for Nantwich and moments before half time, Joe Hull headed the hosts ahead after leaping highest to Jordan Sangha’s floated corner.
Ten minutes after the break, Nantwich won themselves a free-kick twenty-five yards from goal. Cooke stepped up to take, and dipped it over the wall but Hill was confident in his save, and the hosts remained in front.
The first change for Rushall came on the hour mark as Charlie Duke replaced Mathis Fonovich.
The Dabbers made their first change after sixty-eight minutes as Nathan Cotterell replaced Jordan Davies.
The second half was cagey, leaning slightly towards the hosts, yet Nantwich were keeping themselves in the game despite being down to ten men.
Rushall made another change with eighteen minutes left as Tristan Dunkley was brought off, Dominic Dell coming on.
With fifteen minutes to go, Mullarkey went in for a challenge on Richard Brodie with referee Mr Kane immediately pointing to the spot. Brodie picked himself up to fire into the corner, despite Jaaskelainen guessing right.
A double change for Nantwich followed as David Forbes and Clayton McDonald replaced Joe Mwasile and Keaton Webster. McDonald’s aerial threat brought immediate impact as, with ten minutes remaining, his head got to the ball, but was just too high and was off-target.
McDonald again headed one onto Forbes in the box, but Hill was too quick off his line and got there before the former City of Liverpool striker.
Rushall made their final change with four minutes to go, as Richard Brodie was replaced by Kartel O’Neil-Martin.
The referee added on three minutes of added time, but Nantwich couldn’t find a way through, and the closest chance they had in injury time was an ambitious overhead effort from Clayton McDonald, which went wide.
The Dabbers bowed out of the FA Trophy this weekend, but look forward to next week’s national competition as they travel to Stevenage in the First Round Proper of the FA Cup.
Their scheduled game with Warrington this week was kindly postponed by the league in order to give Nantwich more time to prepare for the huge tie, so our next game is next Saturday as we face Stevenage.
Rushall: Hill, Atkinson, Webb, Butterfield, Hull (C), Whittall, Waldron, Sangha, Brodie (O’Neil-Martin 86′), Fondovich (Duke 61′), Dunkley (Dell 72′)
Subs not used: Hancox, Brown
Nantwich: Jaaskelainen, Bourne, Morris, Webster (McDonald 76′), Mullarkey, Hall (C), Davies (Cotterell 68′), Hughes, Clayton, Cooke, Mwasile (Forbes 76′)
Subs not used: Morgan, Griggs
Referee: Mr S Kane
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