Match Report: Stafford Rangers 3-3 Nantwich Town


Jack Jones reports on a dramatic 3-3 draw for the Dabbers against Stafford Rangers.

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Nantwich Town fought back from 3-1 down to rescue a dramatic late point at Stafford Rangers on a warm August Bank Holiday Monday. The Dabbers had gone ahead after a minute through new signing Ryan Brooke, but were pegged back in the first half through headed goals from Kyle Perry and George Bowerman. Jack Sharratt then extended the home side’s lead 6 minutes into the 2nd half.

But the Dabbers fought back, grabbing a goal 5 minutes from time via a Sean Cooke free kick. Just as time seemed to have ran out on them, Parky’s side snatched a late equaliser, with Theo Stair slamming home after showing quick feet in the box. It was the least they deserved after being on the end of 2 heartbreaking home defeats in the last 7 days.

Phil Parkinson had hoped to name the returning Darren Thornton in the squad, but a registration rule meant he was unable to be part of the team. However, they were able to select a new player in striker Ryan Brooke, who signed late on Sunday evening from Curzon Ashton. He took the number 9 shirt and started upfront.

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Stafford had a number of familiar names in their starting XI, including formidable striker Kyle Perry, former Macclesfield winger Izak Reid and one time Walsall player George Bowerman.

The Dabbers made a flying start to the game and were ahead after less than a minute. Brooke won a free kick after good hold up play and Cooke clipped into the box. The ball was flicked on by Curtis Jones and Brooke was on hand at the back post to tap in past Adam Whitehouse to give the Dabbers the lead. It also bagged him a debut goal. The Dabbers looked full of confidence and continued to press for another. Theo Stair was next to go close, shooting just wide from a free kick as he looked to build on his 2 goals in 5 games.

On 15 minutes, the home side suffered a blow when defender Adam Mitter went down following a free kick. He was holding his shoulder and looked to be in a lot of pain. The stretcher was immediately called for and he was taken off. In his place came Christian Dacres. Both sides took a few minutes to recover their tempo after the delay, but the Dabbers went close again, as Ben Harrison headed a Sean Cooke free kick a yard wide.

Stafford were growing into the game though and on 25 minutes had an equaliser. A cross was clipped into the back post by Levi Reid and an unmarked Kyle Perry had the simple task of nodding in from a few yards out. His joy was short lived though, as he injured his leg in scoring and had to come off, with Jake Jones coming on for him.

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Sean Cooke hit back for the Dabbers, shooting straight at Whitehouse as the away side looked to recover their momentum. A mix up at the back for Nantwich almost saw Bowerman score a 2nd for Stafford, but he could only shoot straight at Parton. However, it wasn’t long before the Dabbers fell behind. A long throw into the box was headed on by Townsend and the ball dropped to Bowerman to nod in from 6 yards out.

The Dabbers looked to equalise before half time, with Cooke hitting a deflected shot just wide. They also had a number of corners and free kicks which they couldn’t convert. They were unable to find the 2nd goal and went in at the break 2-1 down. It had been a frustrating first half, with Stafford deserving their goal advantage.

2 minutes into the 2nd half and Theo Stair went close, shooting just wide after good hold up play from Brooke. However, 4 minutes later the Dabbers fell further behind. A ball into the box wasn’t cleared properly and it was played to Jack Sherratt on the edge of the box. He hit a well placed shot in off the post to extend Stafford’s advantage. Parky made a quick change, bringing off one Josh for another as Gordon was replaced by Hancock.

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The Dabbers started to apply some pressure towards the hour mark as they looked for a route back into the game. Ben Harrison headed straight at Whitehouse and the Dabbers forced a number of corners as they tried to hit back. Andy White was the first player in the book after a strong challenge on Bowen, although there was some suggestion he won the ball. There were chances for both teams as Bowerman shot at Parton before Brooke hit the side netting at the other end.

20 minutes from full time, Parky made an attacking sub, bringing on Dave Walker for Mat Bailey, with Andy White assuming the captaincy. The Dabbers almost had a goal back when good work down the left got Touray into the penalty area. He squared the ball to Stair, but his shot was blocked and then cleared off the line. Ben Harrison then had to be alert at the other end, making a superb sliding challenge to rob sub George Cater as he looked set to pull the trigger.

It started to get frenetic as the Dabbers pushed men forward and Stafford started to hit them on the counter attack. Dave Walker shot wide whilst Cater also missed the target at the other end after he did well to hold off 2 Nantwich defenders. Just as time seemed to be running out, the Dabbers got a goal back. Cooke was felled 25 yards from goal down the centre of the pitch. Stair and Cooke stood over the free kick. But whilst everyone in the ground expected Stair to hit it with his left, Cooke stepped up with his right and curled the ball into the top corner, beating Whitehouse all ends up. It looked like a well planned piece of deception and it brought the Dabbers back into the game with 5 minutes to go.

The Dabbers were boosted by the goal, whilst Stafford looked rattled. Parky made one final change, with Osebi Abadaki coming on for Ibou Touray. In the first minute of injury time, Stafford should have wrapped the game up. They broke 2-on-1, with Andy White the lone defender back. As Stafford got the ball in the penalty area, White dived in and wrestled the ball away from the Stafford striker, although the home side were convinced he took the man before the ball. The ref wasn’t interested however and the Dabbers remained only a goal behind.

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The Dabbers to their credit hadn’t given up and they got their reward 3 minutes into injury time. Stair picked up the ball on the right hand side of the area. He then played a quick one-two with Wayne Riley, tricked his way past a Stafford defender and buried a snap shot into the back of the net to snatch a dramatic equaliser for the away side. It was perhaps their reward after seeing a late goal go in against them on Saturday against Stourbridge. It was definitely their reward for their never say die attitude.

When it seemed the Dabbers had bagged a point, the referee opted to play another few minutes and Stafford looked to retake the lead. First Stair, having took a knock to his ankle whilst scoring, pulled back Bowen to give away a free kick. The ball was launched into the box and it bounced around the area before being frantically cleared. Then Stafford almost got a shot on goal inside the 6 yard box as Cater almost found space, but more brave defending denied Rangers a late winner. The referee thankfully brought the game to a close after that, giving the Dabbers a well earned point.

Stafford Rangers: Adam Whitehouse, Sam Griffiths, James Bowen, Adam Mitter(17, Dacres), Michael Townsend, Mitchell Tolley(c), Levi Reid, Jack Sherratt, Kyle Perry(26, Jones), George Bowerman(71, Cater), Izak Reid

Subs: Alex Melbourne, George Cater, Jake Jones, Rob Stevenson, Christian Dacres

Nantwich Town: Dave Parton, Andy White, Ben Harrison, Mat Bailey(c)(71, Walker), Ibou Touray(89, O.Abadaki), Curtis Jones, Wayne Riley, Josh Gordon(55, Hancock), Sean Cooke, Theo Stair, Ryan Brooke

Subs: Godwin Abadaki, Cal Jones, Dave Walker, Josh Hancock, Osebi Abadaki

Goalscorers:

Rangers: Perry(25), Bowerman(40), Sharratt(51)

Dabbers: Brooke(1), Cooke(85), Stair(90)

Attendance: 702

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