By Ryan Batty:
It was Joe Malkin’s first competitive goal in a Nantwich shirt that saw the Dabbers leapfrog Scarborough Athletic to top the table, as they beat Whitby Town in a scrappy 1-0 win at the Turnbull Ground.
The Dabbers could have taken the lead in the first half from the penalty spot, but James Lawrie’s effort was palmed away by Adam McHugh following the challenge in the box that saw Callum Saunders go down.
Whitby had plenty of chances to get into the game, though many of them came in the second half, but it was a credit to Will Jaaskelainen and the Dabbers’ back-line that the men in yellow came away with their twelfth victory of the campaign.
The Dabbers now move on to a huge challenge in South Shields, who make the trip down to South Cheshire on Saturday for a 3.00pm kick-off.
Manager Dave Cooke made two changes from the side that beat Marine last weekend, as Joe Mwasile and Danny Glover were replaced by Joe Malkin and Callum Saunders.
The Dabbers had the first chance of the game from a free-kick just forty-five seconds into the game. Sean Cooke dipped the ball towards the back post, but the effort was just over the heads of Toby Mullarkey and Joe Malkin as the ball went out without conversion.
After six minutes, Saunders put a neat ball in from the left towards Malkin, but the young forward’s touch wasn’t enough to get it past Adam McHugh, and the score remained goalless.
With twenty minutes gone, an effort from Cooke was palmed away by McHugh, but his parry was only as far as Callum Saunders, but the striker’s effort was just over the bar.
Toby Mullarkey was put in the book soon after for a 50/50 challenge that could have gone either way.
Cooke had another chance a moment later from a good spell of possession, but his curling effort was straight into the hands of McHugh.
However, Nantwich had a golden opportunity to take the lead as Saunders was taken down in the box, which left the referee with no choice but to point to the spot. James Lawrie stepped up to take the spot-kick, but his side-footed shot was saved by McHugh.
Nantwich had a good effort a moment later as Cooke again curled one towards the far post, but as bodies rushed forward to try and get a touch on it, McHugh was late to put it past the post, resulting in an sigh of relief for the Seasiders.
Mullarkey put a neat, low ball into the area soon after, but there was nobody at the near post to turn it in for the men in yellow.
With five minutes to go in the half, both Sean Cooke (who had recently been booked) and Toby Mullarkey came close, but neither effort was taken full advantage of and the scores remained goalless.
That was how the first half would end, with neither side able to get themselves ahead.
It was the first chance of the second period, when the men in yellow would take the lead, as Matt Bell’s corner curled into the box, and Joe Malkin was on-hand to head the ball home for his first competitive goal in a Nantwich shirt.
Lawrie should have doubled the lead with ten minutes gone in the second period, as Cooke played in his fellow midfielder, but McHugh pulled off an astonishing save to prevent Lawrie’s effort from sliding in at the back post.
There were protests for a second Nantwich penalty on the hour mark, as Joe Malkin was taken down from a free-kick, but the referee waved away the spot-kick claims from the visitors.
Just after the hour, Jamie Morgan was shoved down by Lewis Maloney, but the referee put both men in the book for the afters that followed.
Kieran Weledji could have equalised for Whitby with twenty-two minutes to go, as a good corner found the full-back, but he couldn’t quite sneak it into the near post.
Matt Bell came ever so close to finding a second as his corner rebounded back to him, and his curling effort may have been taken by the wind, but even so, the effort was only inches away from screaming into the top corner – a goal that, should it have gone in, would have been eerily similar to Nathan Cotterell’s effort in the reverse fixture at the Weaver Stadium in September.
With fifteen minutes to go, Sean Cooke had a neat effort that beat McHugh, but was cleared off the line by the resilient defence of Whitby.
Joel Stair was cautioned a moment later after taking down Junior Mondal, who was a few inches away from getting through the Dabbers’ defence.
With five minutes remaining, it was kitchen sink-time for the hosts, and the travelling supporters of Nantwich would have had their hearts in their mouths as substitute Greg Rutherford was played through the defence, though his shot was past the post of Jaaskelainen.
Substitute Joe Mwasile ran the Whitby defence ragged with three to go, finding Sean Cooke in acres of room, but Cooke’s shot from his weaker foot was past the near post, a chance that led many to wonder whether the Dabbers would regret not taking that chance with the score so tight and Whitby applying such pressure.
The normally one-footed Nathan Cotterell astounded many of the travelling support a moment later as a superb right-footed effort beat McHugh, which had many supporters ready to jump into roars of jubilation, but the defence cleared the ball off the line.
However, despite five minutes of added time, Nantwich’s backs-to-the-wall defending held firm, and the stoic men in yellow picked up the three points necessary to take them to the top of the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
Whitby Town: McHugh, Weledji, Sukar, Lees, Bullock (Tymon 66′), White, Gell, Patton, Mondal (Coffey 76′), Hopson (C), Maloney (Rutherford 66′)
Subs not used: Scott, Dixon (C)
Nantwich Town: Jaaskelainen, Morgan, Barnes, Stair (C), Mullarkey, Bell, Saunders (Mwasile 73′), Lawrie, Malkin (Glover 90+3′), Cooke, Cotterell
Subs not used: Bourne, Hawkins (GK), McDonald)
Ref: Mr M Conroy
Att: 212« Back to all news