By Ryan Batty:
Two goals from Rob Hopley condemned Nantwich Town to a 4-1 defeat to Cheshire rivals Witton Albion despite Sean Cooke netting his tenth league goal of the season.
Cooke had pulled a goal back for the Dabbers in the 70th minute with a fine free kick after Hopley and James Foley had given the hosts a two goal lead at the break.
However the Witton front man scored again during the second period with Steven Tames wrapping up the scoring and the points late on to make it a day to forget for the Dabbers.
Dave Cooke made two changes to the side that beat Lancaster in midweek, as Fabian Spiess returned to the side in an effort to gain match fitness following the injury sustained earlier in the month, while Matt Bell returned to the first eleven in place of Jamie Morgan, as he and Myles Boney dropped to the bench.
Witton started rapidly, getting on the scoresheet just three minutes in. Matty Devine got behind the defence and put a driven cross into the box that was initially blocked by Joel Stair but the loose ball fell as far as Hopley, and the Albion skipper steered the ball past Spiess and into the back of the net.
Nantwich’s first chance came just after the ten-minute mark as Cooke received the ball twenty-five yards from goal, but Witton keeper Calvin Hare was content to see it past the post.
The Dabbers almost equalised after a quarter of an hour as Toby Mullarkey lofted the ball towards Troy Bourne; the full-back brought the ball down with a great touch, and knocked it back for Joe Mwasile to cross into Bell, whose scissor-kick effort narrowly evaded the top of Hare’s goal.
The hosts were very close to doubling their lead after twenty minutes, as a chance similar to the first goal arose, the cross into the box found Hopley, but the forward was unable to put the ball into the back of the net, striking the ball weakly.
Cooke came very close once more after twenty-six minutes, as the ball was chested down to his feet, allowing him to hit one low that flew past the post.
However, the hosts doubled their lead soon after as they earned a free-kick thirty yards from goal on the left-hand side. Foley, looking as though he was going to float it into the box for a header, curled it into the top-left that was reached to by Spiess, but the keeper was unable to prevent the goal.
That would be how the first half concluded, leaving Nantwich with a second-half mountain to climb.
Dave Cooke adjusted the line-up at the interval, as Jamie Morgan replaced Toby Mullarkey.
The first chance of the second-half came on the hour mark, as Devine again made a threatening run into the box, yet Spiess dived at the feet of the full-back to prevent a third.
After sixty-nine minutes, a cynical foul from River Humphreys gave the Dabbers a free-kick in similar position to the two that were scored in the past week. Naturally, Cooke stepped up and curled the set-piece into the top-left, leaving Hare with no chance.
However, just five minutes later, despite encouraging play from the men in green (well, they were in yellow), Tames capitalised on an error in defence and squared to Hopley who was able to place the ball past Spiess to make it 3-1 to the hosts.
In need of a change to shake things up, Dave Cooke introduced Danny Griggs to replace Nathan Cotterell, while the hosts replaced Will Jones with Crewe-loanee Owen Dale.
Witton extended their lead with twelve minutes to go, as a flick on from Hopley gave Tames the chance to take the ball round Spiess, and the Albion forward hit it into a keeper-less net to put the final nail in the coffin for the Dabbers.
With five minutes to go, Cooke hit one low from distance that required a tremendous save from Hare to turn round the post.
On any other day, that would have squeaked into the bottom corner, but it summed up the afternoon for Dave Cooke’s men as despite four minutes of added time, they couldn’t provide any major attacking threat and fell to their first away defeat since December.
We’re back in action next weekend as we travel to Coalville, before returning to the Weaver a week on Tuesday to face Crewe Alex in Cheshire Senior Cup action.
Nantwich: Spiess, Bourne, Wildin, Stair, Mullarkey (Morgan 45′), Bell, Mwasile (Forbes 78′), Hughes (C), Clayton, Cooke, Cotterell (Griggs 76′)
Subs not used: Phillips, Boney
Witton: Hare, McKenna, Devine, Humphreys, Wilson, Foley, Haywood (Gardner 80′), Owens, Hopley (C), Jones (Dale 76′), Tames
Subs not used: Williams, Brown, Neild
Ref: Mr M Barlow
Photos courtesy of Mark Welton« Back to all news