Nantwich Town finished their 2016/17 regular league season with a 4-2 defeat away to Stourbridge. The defeat meant they finished 5th, and will now travel to Spennymoor Town on Tuesday night in the Play Off Semi-Finals.
On a warm and sunny April afternoon at the War Memorial Ground, the Dabbers were the better team in the first half and lead through a Vinny Mukendi goal, after he bundled in a cross from the left. Josh Hancock could have extended their advantage before the break after he scooped a close range shot over the bar.
In the 2nd half, the hosts levelled from the spot after Andy White was adjudged to have nudged Jordan Archer over in the box. Luke Benbow put the penalty away and it kick started a crazy goal filled 20 minute spell. Hancock put the Dabbers back ahead with a stunning free kick, but Stour were once again level as Stuart Pierpoint nodded in a free kick.
Kayleden Brown met a cross from the right to put the home side ahead on 62 minutes and Archer added a 4th when his own header hit the underside of the bar and bounced in. The game petered out as both teams tired, with the result meaning the Dabbers now have a trip on Tuesday evening.
Phil Parkinson continued to rotate as he looked to keep his squad as fresh as possible. Wayne Riley returned to the starting XI as Matt Bell dropped to the bench. The front 3 were all strikers, as Tom Peers, Mukendi and Ryan Brooke all started. Dan Gyollai returned in goal after completing a period of international duty with the Hungary U21s. Ben Harrison once again made the bench, with Joe Howell also back in the squad after a period out.
The hosts started the brighter in the blazing sunshine and in front of a 4 figure crowd. They forced the tempo early on and won a number of corners. From one, Brown met it at the far post and his header was well saved by Gyollai. From another, the ball was headed to Benbow, who’s flicked header was once again claimed by Gyollai.
After that early pressure, the Dabbers started to grow into the game and began putting together some excellent football. Ibou Touray was proving an effective outlet down the left, as he linked up with Hancock and Brooke well. From one corner, Mukendi met the ball at the back post, but his header back into the danger area was held by Glassboys keeper Matt Gould.
Brooke then fired over from 25 yards and Sam Hall flicked a header out of play. The Dabbers were on top and got the goal their play deserved. Touray once again got down the left and sent an inch perfect ball into the 6 yard box, with Mukendi meeting it and slotting past Gould to put the Dabbers ahead.
A few minutes later and the Dabbers could easily have been 2-0 up. Good work down the right put White in the clear. His square ball found a wide open Hancock, but with the goal wide open, the ball hit a bobble and he shot just over. Brooke fired in a cross which Pierpoint cleared for a corner. Curtis Jones headed over, whilst at the other end, Brown scuffed straight at Gyollai as the home fans became restless.
The Dabbers continued to create the better chances, as Hancock fired just over from range. Stourbridge began to threaten at the other end though, as Benbow met a corner, but could only flick a free header wide. The last chance of the first half came when Mukendi found some space on the right side of the penalty area and lashed a vicious shot just over. The Dabbers had been the better of the 2 teams and deserved their 1-0 half time lead.
Both sides made subs at the break, as Jordan Archer came on for the booked Brad Birch. The Dabbers took off Mukendi, who had also been booked, and brought on Joe Mwasile. With 2 minutes of the restart, Archer had made an impact. He beat his man in the Dabbers half and ran towards goal. White came across to block the striker and he went down in the box. The referee blew for a penalty, deeming White had fouled the Stourbridge man. White went into the book and after a delay, Benbow slotted home the spot kick to level the scores.
The Dabbers didn’t let the setback affect them and were straight back on the attack. They won a free kick 25 yards from goal. Hancock and Peers both seemed keen, and the 2 played rock, paper, scissors to decide who would take it. But just as Peers looked to have won, Hancock eventually took the honours. He stepped up and curled an unstoppable free kick into the top corner with Gould well beaten. It was a cracking free kick and it restored the Dabbers lead.
The Dabbers kept up the attack, as Brooke had a shot blocked just inside the box. Hancock was then brought off, with Matt Bell coming on. With just under an hour played, the Dabbers had been good value for their lead, but things changed in the blink of an eye. Stourbridge hit back as they made their height and physicality pay, as a free kick into the box was met by Pierpoint and he powered in a header to bring the scores level once more.
Stourbridge suddenly upped the pressure and from a long throw, a header came in on goal, which Gyollai superbly tipped over the bar. However, from the corner, the ball was worked back out wide and a cross into the box was met by Brown and he had the simple task of nodding in from close range.
It was now the Dabbers turn to respond, as Peers tried an overhead kick which went well wide, whilst Osebi Abadaki came on for Riley. With 20 minutes to go, Stourbridge had their 4th and it came from a familar route. From another whipped ball into the box, Archer met the ball and flicked a header past Gyollai, with the ball hitting the bar and bouncing in.
The Dabbers looked to lift themselves and get back into the game, but the home side continued their pressure. Archer once again went down in the box and the home fans looked for another spot kick, but nothing was doing. Benbow put a dangerous free kick into the box which just missed Pierpoint whilst the striker cut inside and fired wide of the far post.
The game died down as both teams tired. Peers fired a free kick straight at Gould, whilst Benbow put his own free kick well over, in what was a quiet end to the game. The result meant Stourbridge will play Workington on Monday, whilst the Dabbers travel to Spennymoor on Tuesday.
Stourbridge: Matt Gould, Josh Green(Dan Preston, 67), Darryl Westlake, Tom Tonks(c), Kennedy Digie, Stuart Pierpoint, Kayelden Brown, Leon Broadhurst, Luke Benbow, Ethan Jones(Matt Dodd, 62), Brad Birch(Jordan Archer, 45)
Unusued subs: Drew Canavan, Kieran Westwood
Goalscorers: Benbow(50), Pierpoint(58), Brown(61), Archer(70)
Nantwich Town: Dan Gyollai, Andy White, Ibou Touray, Curtis Jones, Joel Stair, Sam Hall, Ryan Brooke, Wayne Riley(Osebi Abadaki, 68), Vinny Mukendi(Joe Mwasile, 45), Josh Hancock(Matt Bell, 56), Tom Peers
Unused subs: Joe Howell, Ben Harrison
Booking: Mukendi, C.Jones, White, Stair
Goalscorers: Mukendi(17), Hancock(54)
Attendance: 1,315« Back to all news