By Richard Scott
Photo by Simon J Newbury Photography
Nantwich Town produced an astonishing performance as they caused what was no doubt one of the upsets of the round as the Dabbers stunned Stockport County to progress to the first round proper of the FA Trophy with a 0-2 away victory.
Goals from Andy White, who scored his first goal in two years, and a penalty from Liam Shotton sent the Dabbers into dreamland.
Boss Phil Parkinson made one change to the starting 11 that lost at Ashton United seven days ago. Josh Gordon was on the bench as Lewis Short took his place and keeper Terry Smith was also on the bench.
The game started slowly with Nantwich trying to show some of the excellent play that had seen them score 70 goals already this season. The terrible weather didn’t make it easy, nor did the more experienced players of Stockport County, but Nantwich started pretty well considering and certainly didn’t look like a team in the league below. Far from it.
Steve Jones won the Dabbers the first corner of the game with a surging run, only being tackled in the six-yard box. From the corner Bailey almost profited as he headed across goal, but County werer able to clear their lines for a throw in.
As the game entered the 10-minute mark, the Dabbers were growing more and more into the game, with Sam Hall and Elliot Osborne pulling the strings in the middle of the park and releasing Lewis Short on a number of occasions as he made some excellent runs down the line.
The first shot of the game came from Jonny Margetts on 12 minutes, but he fired wide of the goal, which was never going to trouble Krystian Burzysnki.
The Hatters could have been in for the opening goal, when a through ball to Abdulai Baggie went the wrong side of the County number 7. Had it found him straight to his feet, the NTFC goal would have surely been threatened.
There was some concern for the Dabbers on 16 minutes when Short went down injured as he tried to get down the line, but the former Airbus UK man was able to continue up until half time.
The Dabbers first good chance of the game saw Short break through. Keeper Andreas Arestidou saved his shot and then the follow up shot fell to Osborne but the Hatter’s number one was able to block the Dabbers follow up effort.
Joe Garvin was the first man in the book when he went in late on Hall leaving the Captain hurt, but the Dabbers skipper was able to continue in the game.
The Dabbers were full of confidence and Darren Thornton tried his luck on 23 minutes from long distance, but in the end it was an easy save for the Hatters keeper.
145 travelling Nantwich fans roared Nantwich on and what a noise they were making! The atmosphere was electric; especially as Nantwich were playing so well and really looking the better team in the first half.
NTFC were winning quite a few corners as a reward for the constant pressure, but with no reward from the set piece plays. Stockport County were defending well.
Shotton was close to getting on the end of a Thornton cross on 28 minutes when he whipped the ball into the area, but the keeper did well to cut it out.
The Hatters were coming back into the game as Margetts had an effort on 36 minutes, which Hall did well to block for a corner. Karl Ledsham also went very close to a goal on 38 minutes, when a cross came in and he should have done better with his header that went wide.
Thornton won a corner as we entered the last five minutes of the half when he was allowed to run from deep and his shot took a block off the Hatters captain Sean O’Hanlon. The resulting corner came to nothing.
Half time County 0 – Nantwich 0.
Going into the interval Phil Parkinson would have been the happier of the two managers. There was no doubt that Nantwich had edged it in the first half. More possession, more attacks, more corners and to a neutral you would never know there was a division between the two teams.
The NTFC away fans were happy at half time at the performance they had seen so far and were hoping for a second half goal from The Dabbers.
Nantwich were slower out of the blocks in the second half and it’s fair to assume that the County manager had given his team a telling off in the dressing room. County came out determined to put a poor first half behind them and show why they a club steeped in history.
For the first 15 minutes of the second half, County had the upper hand.
The first chance of the second half came on 46 minutes when County defender Dale Tonge broke forward and crossed, only for Margetts to volley well wide of the goal.
Nantwich made their first change just after, as Short limped off for Josh Hancock , no doubt feeling the effects of his earlier knock.
The former Dabbers youth team man was straight into the game as he tried to get into the area, but the Hatters defense snuffed him out before he could threaten the goal.
The game was a real end-to-end match as both teams looked for the opening goal and Baggie was allowed to turn and shoot from 25-yards out, the shot drifting just wide of Burzynski’s post.
White was having a good game in defense and he almost opened the scoring for Nantwich on 52 minutes when he got forward and shot from distance, but he didn’t get the shot on target.
Bell could have opened the scoring on 55 minutes, when White set up Jones for the cross. Jones pulled the ball back for Bell whose shot got a deflection just over the bar, but the linesman didn’t spot it and awarded a goal kick.
County’s Ledsham had another chance on 62 minutes, when from a quick corner some of the Dabbers were caught napping. Bailey wasn’t asleep however and he got a head on it to half clear the danger. The ball fell to Ledsham and he was to volley over the bar, much to relief of the players.
Moran had to be on hand to cut out a Baggie cross after he had beaten Thornton on the byline. The 18-year old showed his maturity to clear the danger from the front of the six-yard box.
Stockport should have been ahead when Glenn Rule saw his shot dropped by Burzynski.
Margetts was able to pick up on the loose ball and rounded the stranded keeper and to everyone in the ground it looked like he was going to find the net. He only had to side foot it home into the empty net. However Margetts dithered a bit, and somehow Mat Bailey managed to get across in time to clear the ball off the line!
This really was a lucky escape for Nantwich but no more than they deserved. The County man had all the time in the world to tap home but inexplicably took an age to tap in from 3 yards, allowing Bailey the time to scamper across. Credit where it is due, Bailey didn’t give up on what seemed a certain open goal, and he got his reward with a goal saving block.
It was a real turning point in the game, giving Nantwich further belief that they could win the tie.
Steve Jones was brought off for Josh Gordon on 65 minutes, with some fresh legs required for the last third of the game.
White made a forceful run on 70 minutes and he got a shot away, which was blocked by a defender. The ball fell to Bell who tapped the ball home, but the goal was ruled offside.
County’s strength was still a danger and Baggie flashed a shot straight at Burzynski following a run from deep, but it was bread and butter save for the Dabbers keeper.
The final sub for Nantwich saw Osborne coming off for Sean Cooke, as Nantwich went for the win. Osborne had worked his socks off in the midfield trying to dictate the play as much as possible with his midfield partner Sam Hall.
County sub Micah Evans could have opened the scoring for the Hatters when he beat Bailey to get into the area, but Burzysnki was able to deny him with a fine save with his legs.
The deadlock was to be broken moments later when a throw in found its way to White on the far right. He cut inside his man on his left foot and unleashed a brilliant powerful shot into the far corner to send the Dabbers faithful into paradise. What a goal and The Dabbers fans were going wild whilst the team celebrated with the coaching staff.
0-1 to Nantwich on 81 minutes, with 9 minutes plus added time to go.
Thornton, and NTFC left back, and White at right back, had created problems all game for County with their overlapping runs and excellent crosses. This time, White cut inside and shot himself and what a reward he got.
As the minutes ticked away, Bell went close from distance after some good hold up play by Cooke, who fended off a couple of defenders before releasing the ball to Bell. The effort by Bell went just wide of the goal.
Shotton was through on goal in the final minutes and he was very unlucky as he lifted the ball over the keeper, only to see it agonizingly hit the post. It looked for all the world to be goal number two for NTFC and enough to seal the tie.
The ball came back to Cooke off the post but by then the defensive cover had arrived, and Sean’s shot was blocked by a defender.
In the final seconds of injury time, Arestidou brought down Shotton for a penalty after the forward had nicked the ball past him. The in-form striker dusted him down and he smashed the ball into the net to send Nantwich into the 1st round proper of the FA Trophy. 0-2 to NTFC.
It was a fantastic result for the Dabbers who more than deserved the victory with the football they played, which included 10 shots on target compared to County’s three.
A historic victory away to Stockport County.
The draw for the next round is on Monday 30th, with the tie being set to take place on 12th December, meaning our home game against Salford City will be off.
Parkinson’s heroes will be back at the Weaver Stadium on Tuesday night as they entertain Market Drayton Town in the Intergo Sports Cup, kick off 7:45pm
Stockport County: Arestidou, Tounge, Ledsham, Connelly, O’Halon (c), Rule, Baggie, Morton, Odejayi, Margetts and Gravin.
Subs: Joyce, O’Hara, Ellison, Evans (on for Odejayi) and Colley (on for Baggie).
Nantwich Town: Burzysnki, White, Thornton, Moran, Bailey, Osborne, Jones, Hall (c), Shotton, Bell and Short.
Subs: Hancock, T.Smith, Harrison, Cooke and Gordon.
Attendance: 1,066 – 145 from Nantwich.« Back to all news