By James Brown:
Nantwich Town made it two wins in five days after a superb second half fightback saw them beat Stalybridge Celtic 4-2 on Saturday afternoon at The Weaver Stadium.
Joe Malkin netted twice, along with a Toby Mullarkey penalty and first Dabbers goal for Ricardo Fuller in the second half after trailing 1-0 at the break to keep the Nantwich promotion charge well and truly alive.
The strong winds over The Weaver were proving to be a factor throughout and limited both sides to few chances during the opening half, with a weak effort from Michael Howard which didn’t test Will Jaaskelainen in the Dabbers goal the only shot of note inside the first quarter of an hour.
A Nantwich side without the influential Sean Cooke due to suspension and injured captain Caspar Hughes threatened for the first time midway through the half, with Nathan Cotterell blazing a shot over and a Callum Saunders cross almost being turned into his own net by Stalybridge skipper Chris Smalley.
With Louis Barnes having to be replaced by Luke Walsh due to injury early on, Nantwich took a while to settle into the game which allowed the visitors to apply some pressure which ultimately led to the opening goal.
Despite an elbow on midfielder Matt Bell, the referee played on and a through ball found the run of Neil Kengni who broke the offside trap and fired into the net to give Stalybridge a half-time lead.
Bell needed to be replaced due to his injury at the break and was replaced by Joe Mwasile who added some extra pace to what was to be an exhilarating second half.
Despite Smalley heading a Stalybridge free-kick narrowly wide minutes after the restart, Nantwich came out firing and went close on 50 minutes when Malkin guided a Walsh cross towards goal but was denied by Patrick Wharton on two occasions.
It wasn’t long until the Dabbers were given an opportunity to get themselves level when Jamie Morgan was taken out in the box by Mark Lees and the referee pointed to the spot. Mullarkey kept his composure to slot the penalty into the bottom left corner.
Within moments of the restart, the Dabbers had completely turned the game around when substitute Mwasile motored down the field and saw his shot deflected only as far as Malkin who headed home past a helpless Wharton in the Stalybridge goal to make it 2-1 on 56 minutes.
The wind continued to cause some problems heading towards the hour mark with a succession of corners for the visitors requiring Jaaskelainen to be alert.
The final Nantwich substitution could not have made a more immediate impact as with his first touches, Fuller scored his first Dabbers goal, controlling an excellent Walsh cross before calmly firing into the corner to make it 3-1. Stalybridge continued to fight and tested Jaaskelainen when a driven free-kick from Glenn Rule needed to be turned away.
Ten minutes remained when Stalybridge found a route back into the contest. A weak defensive header from Joel Stair looking for Jaaskelainen was intercepted by substitute Daniel Cockerline who converted into the empty net.
A fantastic opportunity to make it 3-3 came the visitors way three minutes later when Kengni was given too much time on the edge of the box and drilled an effort which luckily for Nantwich came back off the left-hand post.
The next goal would be vital, and it went the way of the Dabbers. Fuller played in Mwasile on the right-hand side who showed good composure before delivering a low cross into the box for Malkin to show his class and direct a low shot into the back of the net.
An end-to-end game almost had another twist as the Dabbers almost fell asleep in defence after the goal as Cockerline looked to get his second but this time his lob over Jaaskelainen drifted over.
Malkin was inches away from his hat-trick heading into added time following some sensational skill from Fuller on the left to beat a number of Stalybridge defenders before crossing for the open striker inside the six yard box however his header came back off the base of the post.
The Dabbers will look for a third straight win on Tuesday night when they travel to Buxton for their rearranged fixture from earlier this season (7:45pm kick-off).
Nantwich Town: Will Jaaskelainen, Jamie Morgan, Louis Barnes (Luke Walsh 28’), Joel Stair, Toby Mullarkey, Troy Bourne, James Lawrie, Matt Bell (Joe Mwasile 46’), Joe Malkin, Callum Saunders (Ricardo Fuller 68’), Nathan Cotterell
Subs not used: Danny Glover, James Hawkins (GK)
Stalybridge Celtic: Patrick Wharton, Liam Tongue, Douglas Nyaupembe, Mark Lees, Chris Smalley (c), Oliver Marx, Scott Bakkor, Glenn Rule (Greg Wilkinson 76’), Neil Kengni, Ross Dent (Daniel Cockerline 68’), Michael Howard
Subs not used: Elliot Cooke, Matthew Wolfenden, Aidan Winterbottom (GK)
Referee: Mr Simon Barrow
Photos courtesy of Jonathan White« Back to all news