Match Report: Stafford Rangers 1-4 Nantwich Town


By James Brown:

Joe Malkin delivered a knock-out punch to Stafford Rangers with a brace on Boxing Day as Nantwich Town came away from Marston Road with a convincing 4-1 victory to consolidate their place at the top of the Evo-Stik Premier Division.

In front of a bumper festive crowd of 807, the Dabbers put on an excellent display from defence to attack, with Sean Cooke and Malkin both being denied inside the opening five minutes thanks to Stafford keeper George Sykes-Kenworthy who made a number of smart saves during the first half.

At the other end Nantwich keeper Will Jaaskelainen needed to be alert to keep out Andrew Haworth and Joe Cuff as Boro’ began to put some pressure on the Dabbers goal.

The game was kept goalless by that man Sykes-Kenworthy again just before the half hour mark when Louis Barnes fooled the Stafford wall with a free-kick curled left-footed towards the bottom corner however it was saved well.

On 32 minutes the deadlock was eventually broken and it was something special. Joe Mwasile made a storming run down the right wing taking on a couple of Boro’ defenders before feeding Cooke outside the box who curled right footed into the top corner giving Sykes-Kenworthy no chance.

James Lawrie used some neat footwork to put himself in a goal scoring position but sliced over five minutes later before Stafford began to grow into the game. Despite looking offside, Cuff found himself in on goal however good reactions from Jaaskelainen kept Nantwich ahead.

Five minutes before the break, the home side were level when Jake Charles’ run down the right past Barnes saw the winger cross into the six-yard box resulting in the unfortunate Joel Stair turning a clearance past his own keeper. Cooke had a chance to respond quickly but was denied by Sykes-Kenworthy as the sides went in all square.

Stafford began the second half on the front foot as a sliced Jamie Morgan clearance allowed Charles in, but he fired wide before Nantwich settled.

From the 54-minute mark, the Dabbers controlled possession with a Lawrie cut-back finding the run of Matt Bell who had his goal bound shot blocked on what was becoming a difficult pitch to play fluent football.

Nantwich re-took the lead before the hour mark when a drilled shot from Cooke 20-yards out was only parried by Sykes-Kenworthy into Malkin’s path who scored his first of the afternoon, thumping home from close range.

The home side almost found themselves level once more almost immediately after a shot from inside the area was cleared off the line by Lawrie who was putting in a shift at both ends.

With 20 minutes to go, the Dabbers were in a great position to pick up three points with what turned out to be an important goal. Some more terrific energy from Mwasile took the winger past Josh Green before crossing for Malkin who netted his brace with a bullet header.

Toby Mullarkey wrapped up the victory inside the final ten minutes, rising above his marker from a Cooke corner to head home as the fantastic Dabbers traveling support erupted.

Stair continued to lead an excellent Nantwich defensive line to see out the remaining time and make it eight unbeaten in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.

The Dabbers are back at home on New Year’s Day with a Cheshire derby against Witton Albion at the Weaver Stadium (3pm kick-off).

Stafford Rangers:  George Sykes-Kenworthy, Sam Coulson (Lewis Banks 59’), Joshua Green, Luke Jones (c), Daniel Burns, Jack Sherratt (Pete Williams 64’), Theo Bailey-Jones (Izak Reid 59’), Tom Thorley, Jake Charles, Andrew Haworth, Joe Cuff

Subs not used:  James Askey, Adam Siviter

Nantwich Town:  Will Jaaskelainen, Jamie Morgan, Louis Barnes, Joel Stair, Toby Mullarkey, Matt Bell, Joe Mwasile (Callum Saunders 81’), Caspar Hughes (c) (Danny Glover 89’), Joe Malkin, Sean Cooke (Nathan Cotterell 90’+2), James Lawrie

Subs not used:  Troy Bourne, Declan O’Riordan

Attendance:  807

Referee:  Steve Durnall

Images courtesy of Jonathan White

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