Nantwich Town made it 11 league games unbeaten as they held off a determined Skelmersdale United to win 3-2 at Stormy Corner. Against the bottom of the table Skem, the Dabbers had to battle hard as the hosts pushed them all the way.
Ryan Brooke opened the scoring midway through the first half after Sean Cooke has played him in on goal. But Skem equalised 10 minutes later when Phil Mooney latched onto a long ball and tucked under Dan Gyollai.
The Dabbers hit the front in the 2nd half as Steve Jones pounced on a mistake from Skem keeper Chris Cheetham and restore the lead. But once again the hosts responded, as Callum Grogan turned in from a disputed corner 18 minutes from time.
The Dabbers hit back a minute later though, as Brooke was fouled by Cheetham and won a penalty. Cooke stepped up and put the away side in front, an advantage they were able to hold onto despite some late pressure from the hosts. The win moved them 6 points clear of the chasing pack and kept them right behind Stourbridge in the race for 2nd spot.
Phil Parkinson rang the changes for the game, making 5 in total. Andy White recovered from a knock to return in defence, whilst Joe Howell was handed his full debut in midfield. Cooke, Steve Jones and Brooke completed the changes for the Dabbers. The bench was a strong one, as it contained Osebi Abadaki, February Player of the Month Joe Mwasile and Tom Peers.
The game didn’t take too long to get going, with Jones getting in down the right. He found his route to goal blocked by a covering Skem defender. Cooke then had a clear sight of goal, as he cut inside on the right and shot straight at Skem keeper Chris Cheetham. Jones had 2 shots blocked before White tested Cheetham with low shot at the near post.
After having several chances to go ahead, the Dabbers were indebted to Dan Gyollai at the other end as he stopped a curling effort on goal from the edge of the box on 15 minutes. It was a good save from the big stopper.
The game’s flow was being disrupted by a few niggly moments and fouls which slowed the momentum game. The Dabbers got themselves ahead midway through the half though, as they punished the home sides high defensive line.
Cooke picked up the ball on the halfway line and set Brooke in on goal. He steadied himself before slotting cooly past Cheetham. It was a landmark goal, as it was Brooke’s 10th and the clubs 100th of the season.
John Johnston was put in goal shortly after the opener, but he was flagged for offside. He went into the book for kicking the ball away. Dean Shacklock was the first home player carded after he tripped White on the half way line.
The Dabbers were giving the ball away and got punished for one lapse, as a long ball over the top beat the defence and set Skem captain Phil Mooney in on goal. He nipped in ahead of Gyollai to roll in and give the home side the equaliser.
Brooke looked to respond, as he held off his man in the box and shot on goal, but it was deflected and fell kindly for Cheetham. Johnston was proving a threat as he switched wings to go down the right. First he tried an audacious lob which landed on the roof of the net, then his cross into the 6 yard box was hastily gathered by Cheetham.
At the other end, Seb Bradshaw tried his luck from distance as what had been a frustrating opening 45 minutes for the Dabbers ended level at 1-1.
The Dabbers came out re-energised in the 2nd half and had the lead 2 minutes in. White had a hopeful shot from the right hand side and the ball bounced awkwardly on Cheetham. He could only parry the ball and Steve Jones was on hand to tap in for the Dabbers 2nd.
That rattled the hosts and Cooke created some space inside the Skem penalty area, but the ball was blocked as he went to shoot. Johnston then had a shot blocked from a quick break. Brooke volleyed over after the ball sat up nicely for him on the edge of the box.
Parky made his first change, bringing on Wayne Riley for Howell. Skem’s first chance of the 2nd half came when Shacklock cut inside and curled straight at Gyollai. Another sub for the Dabbers came on the hour mark when Abadaki came on for Jones.
Skem were giving it their all as they looked for a way back into the game. They were also playing some excellent football and causing the Dabbers some problems at the back. The chances continued to come for both teams, as Cooke saw an attempt blocked yet again, whilst Shacklock curled well over at the other end.
With just under 20 minutes to go, Skem sub Max Allan hit a shot on goal that Gyollai was able to save and gather on the touchline. The referee however pointed for a corner, despite the fact the linesman didn’t signal. In the confusion, Skem capitalised as the ball dropped in the box and Callum Grogan turned in off the bar to draw the home side level for a 2nd time.
Dan Gyollai was booked for his protests at the original award of a corner, as the Dabbers felt aggrieved at the original decision. Parky made his final sub, bringing on Joe Mwasile for Johnston. To their credit, the Dabbers went up the other end and immediately hit back. Brooke was played in to the left of goal and he beat the onrushing Cheetham to the ball, with the keeper fouling the striker.
Talisman Cooke stepped up and hit an unstoppable penalty high into the net for his 20th of the season to restore the Dabbers lead. The hosts once again looked to respond and grab an equaliser as they turned up the pressure, pressing the Dabbers high up the pitch.
The away side hit on the counter with 5 minutes to go, as Abadaki cut inside and beat 2 men. He zipped a shot just over the bar as the Dabbers looked for a 4th goal to kill the game off. As the game ticked into injury time, Skem left back Jack White lashed the ball away in frustration at the award of a free kick against his side and almost hit the ref in the process. He went into the book.
Despite some pressure from the hosts, they weren’t able to fashion a late chance and the Dabbers were able to grab the win which keeps them hot on the heels of Stourbridge in 2nd.
Skelmersdale United: Chris Cheetham, Glennon Cameron, Jack White, Callum Grogan, Jason Jeffries, Steve Irwin, Phil Mooney(c), Seb Bradshaw(Jack Watts, 45), Nathan Randell(Stuart Callaway, 90), Dean Shacklock, Remirez Howarth(Max Allan, 63)
Unused subs: Tom Stephens, Jordan Mason
Bookings: Shacklock(30), Jack White(90)
Goalscorers: Mooney(36), Grogan(72)
Nantwich Town: Dan Gyollai, Andy White, Ibou Touray, Joel Stair, Ben Harrison, Sam Hall(c), Steve Jones(Osebi Abadaki, 60), Joe Howell(Wayne Riley, 54), Ryan Brooke, Sean Cooke, John Johnston(Joe Mwasile, 72)
Unused subs: Tom Peers, Curtis Jones
Bookings: Brooke(17), Johnston(28), Gyollai(72)
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