By James Brown:
Nantwich Town earned an Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round replay with Blyth Spartans after a thoroughly entertaining 3-3 draw in a game which had everything at the Weaver Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Dabbers started the much more threatening side as an Aaron Knight shot was saved by Blyth keeper Peter Jameson before deservedly taking the lead 13 minutes in following some excellent work from Callum Saunders to turn his man on the left-hand side before finding James Lawrie who fired home from close range.
Saunders was looking dangerous every time Nantwich came forward in the first half, brilliantly cutting inside and hitting a strike which went straight down the throat of Jameson. The visitors took a while to get themselves into the game but began to create some chances 20 minutes in, with Dabbers keeper Fabian Spiess making a nice close range save.
Some strong attacking play from Blyth needed to be dealt with by an equally strong Nantwich defence as a succession of corners peppered Spiess’ goal. An injury to Matt Bell forced the Dabbers into a first half change as Sean Cooke came on to add another attacking threat to the midfield after 33 minutes.
Blyth’s biggest threat throughout was captain Robbie Dale and the tall striker had a good chance to equalise after finding some space inside the box but his effort went into the side netting. The visitors eventually got themselves on level terms a minute before half-time when Jamie Holmes turned Troy Bourne before slotting under the legs of Spiess largely against the run of play. Despite Danny Glover heading against the bar in added time, 1-1 was how it stayed.
A relatively even start to the second half was broken when Dabbers skipper Caspar Hughes fired an absolute rocket from distance which practically broke the net of the top left corner to put Nantwich back in front on 57 minutes. The joy was unfortunately short lived as a minute later Blyth were level once more when a corner into the box fell kindly for Sean Reid to slam home past Spiess.
Saunders was unlucky not to test Jameson just after the hour, bringing a long ball down well in the box before hitting first time inches over the bar. That miss came to be punished as Blyth had their first lead of the game on 65 minutes when a missed tackle by Nathan Cotterell allowed the visitors to push forward and find a cross which was met by Bradley Fewster to steer home from two yards out.
The second half was played at lightning speed as Blyth looked to secure a passage to the next round however the Dabbers certainly didn’t give up. A huge turning point came with 20 minutes to go when Michael Liddle, already on a yellow, was shown his marching orders after a foul on Saunders.
Joe Mwasile came on for Aaron Knight as Nantwich looked to hammer home the man advantage and Saunders almost made it 3-3 with a header which was just too weak to beat Jameson. It could easily have been all over with nine minutes to go as Reid dipped a half volley which smacked against the bar.
With Steve Jones on for the final push, Glover was inches away from an equaliser after a Jameson save from Lawrie fell for the striker, but his follow-up was narrowly wide. The Dabbers fighting spirit was ultimately rewarded with three minutes remaining when a Glover header off the bar was slammed home by that man Lawrie on the rebound to make it 3-3.
Following the equaliser, Nantwich piled on the pressure and came close to a last gasp victory after Cooke’s curling effort was saved well by Jameson before a Lawrie free-kick in the final minute of added time was deflected off the wall and away from danger.
A terrific advert for the Emirates FA Cup which didn’t really deserve to have a loser so we will do it all again on Tuesday evening (7:45pm kick-off) in the replay.
Nantwich Town: Fabian Spiess, Troy Bourne, Nathan Cotterell (Steve Jones 82’), Joel Stair, Toby Mullarkey, Caspar Hughes (c), James Lawrie, Matt Bell (Sean Cooke 33’), Danny Glover, Callum Saunders, Aaron Knight (Joe Mwasile 73’)
Subs not used: Jamie Morgan, Will Jaaskelainen (GK), Joe Malkin, Louis Barnes
Blyth Spartans: Peter Jameson, Alex Nicholson, Michael Liddle, Darren Mullen, Nathan Buddle, Jordan Watson, Jarrett Rivers (Adam Wrightson 48’), Sean Reid, Bradley Fewster, Jamie Holmes (Ian Watson 71’), Robbie Dale (c) (Andrei Ardalean 82’)
Subs not used: Connor Oliver, Lewis Horner, Aaron Cunninghan, Bradley Skirpan (GK)
Referee: Mr Peter Shacklady« Back to all news