Nantwich Town saw their 2016/17 season come to an end as they lost 2-0 at Spennymoor Town in the Play-Off Semi-Final. The Dabbers had made the play-offs for the first time in 8 years and they were aiming to earn promotion to the Conference North for the first time in their history.
They faced a daunting midweek trip to Spennymoor Town, a round trip of 340 miles. They pushed the 2nd placed Moors all the way, but fell behind to a Kallum Griffiths free kick on 67 minutes. The home side doubled their advantage with 10 minutes to go when Andrew Johnson cut inside and found the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
The Dabbers threw men forward as they searched for a way back into the game, but Spennymoor saw them game to advance to the final where they will play Stourbridge for promotion.
With manager Phil Parkinson missing the game due to work commitments, Neil Sorvel made just 2 changes from the side that started against Stourbridge on Saturday. Ben Harrison returned in defence as Joel Stair dropped to the bench. Matt Bell was the other, as he was back in midfield, replacing Ryan Brooke. Steve Jones was back on the bench after missing out on Saturday.
Spennymoor started the game well and Johnson had the first half chance as he curled well over the bar from distance. Graeme Armstrong then spun in the Dabbers half, beating 2 defenders. He then shot straight at Dan Gyollai from the edge of the area.
The home side were on top and Johnson got down the right and pulled the ball back for Ramshaw. Ibou Touray was alert and cleared the ball off the toe of the Moors winger as he looked to shoot. Griffiths went the closest to a goal as he whipped a 25 yard free kick just wide of the post.
After a shaky start, the Dabbers started to grow into the game. From a free kick into the Moors box, the ball fell to Mukendi, but he couldn’t control the ball and Spennymoor cleared. From a sliced clearance, the Dabbers won a corner and came close to taking the lead. The ball into the box was just missed by the diving Curtis Jones under the cross bar and the ball fell to Sam Hall. He fires just over from the edge of the area.
From a free kick on the edge of the Moors penalty area, Hancock fired 2 yards over. From another flowing move, Touray got down the left and sent a cross into the box, but Moors keeper Dan Lowson claimed the ball. Hancock had a shot from distance blocked for a throw as clear cut chances remained hard to come by for both sides.
Glen Taylor had the next chance as he spun on the edge of the area and fired, but his shot was blocked for a corner. The weather was playing a part in proceedings, as freezing temperatures and driving rain made things tricky for both sets of players. Neither side could find the breakthrough and went in level at half time.
Spennymoor came out for the 2nd half fired up and caused an early scramble in the Dabbers box which the away side just about cleared to safety. From another Moors attack, a looping cross looked to have found Taylor at the back post, but Jones made a superb header to break up the attack.
Hancock looked to break quickly from one move, but Jamie Chandler halted his progress and was lucky to avoid a yellow. From another break, Jones was caught late by Shane Henry and the Moors man went into the book.
Hancock then made perhaps the play of the game as he showed great skill on the left wing to beat his man with a spin. He got down the left and his pull back found Bell, who saw a shot deflect for a corner. From the resulting corner, Harrison headed just wide. Spennymoor were a threat and should have taken the lead on the hour mark.
A cross into the box was blocked by Curtis Jones, but the clearance was played straight to a Moors striker. His close range shot looked destined to go in, but Gyollai made an incredible close range save, pushing the ball over the bar for a corner. The Moors turned to their bench, bringing on Isaac Baldwin for Chris Mason.
On 65 minutes came the decisive moment. Spennymoor broke at the Dabbers defence and the away side gave away a free kick. From the set piece, Griffiths found a gap in the wall and it beat Gyollai down low at his near post. Sorvs reacted quickly, bringing on Joe Mwasile for Vinny Mukendi as they looked for an equaliser.
Matt Bell then went into the book for 2 late challenges in the Moors half. The Dabbers were trying to get back into the game and forced a corner which they couldn’t convert from. Ryan Brooke then came on for Wayne Riley. However, with just over 10 minutes to go, Spennymoor doubled their lead. They won the ball back in the Dabbers half and Andrew Johnson cut inside before firing low into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
It was a hammer blow to the Dabbers, and the Moors looked to extend their lead. The ball fell to Taylor in the box and he turned in, but the flag was up for offside. With 5 minutes to go, the Dabbers made their final sub as Osebi Abadaki came on for Hancock. Spennymoor were starting to hit on the break and sub David Dowson forced Gyollai into a smart save down to his right.
The final chance of the game came for the Dabbers as a Touray free kick from the right was met by Bell, but his header flew over. It brought the Dabbers season to an end, but whilst they were defeated, they will undoubtedly feel proud of their accomplishments this season and will look to build on it next season.
Spennymoor Town: Dan Lowson, Kallum Griffiths, Chris Mason(c)(Isaac Baldwin, 64), Jamie Chandler, Joe Tait, Jamie Curtis, Robert Ramshaw, Shane Henry, Glen Taylor, Graeme Armstrong(David Dowson, 74), Andrew Johnson(Mark Anderson, 90)
Unused subs: Adam Mitchell, Nathan Fisher
Goalscorer: Griffiths(67), Johnson(79)
Nantwich Town: Dan Gyollai, Andy White, Ibou Touray, Ben Harrison, Curtis Jones, Sam Hall(c), Josh Hancock(Osebi Abadaki, 85), Wayne Riley(Ryan Brooke, 77), Vinny Mukendi(Joe Mwasile, 71), Matt Bell, Tom Peers
Unused subs: Steve Jones, Joel Stair
Bookings: Bell, C.Jones
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