By Steve Sharman:
Goals from former players Mat Bailey and Osebi Abadaki ensured Nantwich were beaten 3-0 by Stafford Rangers as the Dabbers suffered their third league defeat in a row.
Bailey’s early close range header was followed by Abadaki’s powerful finish as the hosts were two up by half time, before a strike from Richard Gregory midway through the second period made it a night to forget for the Dabbers.
Boss Dave Cooke made several changes to his line up from Saturday’s defeat to Ashton, as Clayton McDonald, Fabian Spiess, Sam Hall, Jordan Davies and Harry Clayton made the starting eleven with Toby Mullarkey, Krystian Burzynski and Troy Bourne dropping to the bench.
Alongside them was forward Sam Phillips who was signed in time for the game having previously played for Haughmond and Wolves.
Stafford were coming into the game on the back of a 5-2 defeat to Shaw Lane and they certainly put that behind them as they took the lead just two minutes in.
Jack Sherratt whipped in a corner from the right hand side and Bailey rose highest to nod into the net past Spiess.
It was nearly two for the hosts four minutes later as the home crowd thought their side had scored again, but Gregory’s header at the far post brushed the side netting.
The Dabbers responded and up the other end an interchange between Caspar Hughes and Sean Cooke saw the latter’s curling shot deflected over the bar.
Spiess then did well on two occasions to deny Rangers’ forward Dan Westwood as he palmed away a low left footed strike before saving with his feet after the striker had gotten in behind the Nantwich defence.
On the half hour mark, the Dabbers had a chance to pull level as Harry Clayton was bundled to the floor by Jordaan Brown, with referee Simon Brown pointing to the spot.
Up stepped Cooke whose powerful strike smashed off the underside of the crossbar, before bouncing down and was subsequently cleared by the home defence.
The final action of the half brought a free kick on the edge of the box for the visitors but Cooke’s curling effort clipped the top of the wall and out for a corner.
Dave Cooke brought on Troy Bourne for Clayton McDonald early on in the second half, and Bourne was involved straight away as his low shot was saved by Adam Whitehouse.
Nantwich were seeing a lot more of the ball as Rangers were content at sitting back and allowing their opponents to maintain possession.
Joel Stair headed Cooke’s corner over the bar on the hour mark, before Rangers then effectively sealed the game two minutes later.
Gregory was given time and space inside the Dabbers’ box before curling into the far corner with his left foot.
It could have been four soon after as Spiess brilliantly denied Westwood, who had tried to go round the Dabbers’ goalkeeper, before Sam Hall cleared off the line from Sherratt’s shot.
Jamie Morgan then headed Bailey’s deflected effort off the line after the ball fell kindly to the Rangers’ captain.
Up the other end and fine play down the right from Davies, saw his low cross find Harry Clayton at the back post, but the forward was unable to turn the ball home.
The final ten minutes of the game offered very little in terms of action and opportunities as Stafford comfortably saw out the game.
Up next for the Dabbers is the third qualifying round of the FA Cup as Nuneaton Town visit the Weaver on Saturday (3pm KO).
Stafford Rangers: Whitehouse, Griffiths, K. Westwood, Brown, Bailey (c), Craddock, Abadaki (Davis 83′), Sherratt, D. Westwood, Gregory (I Reid 78′), Batchelor.
Subs not used: L. Reid, Briscoe, Thomas
Nantwich Town: Spiess, Hughes, Morgan, Stair, McDonald (Bourne 50′), Hall (c), Davies, Bell (Mullarkey 45′), Clayton, Cooke, Cotterell (Forbes 59′)
Subs not used: Phillips, Burzynski (GK)
Referee: S Brown
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