This was a night when those in attendance will swell over the proceeding years, as this was very much a “I was there when…” situation.
But let’s start from the beginning, where Nantwich were looking to come away with the upset victory against their higher ranked opponents, managed by our old manager Phil Parkinson, so the recipe was there for a classic game, and that is exactly what we got. The start of the game wasn’t ideal, as the hosts took the lead in a blink and you might have missed it 34 seconds, as the captain of Altrincham, Josh Hancock, to the delight of the home supporters slotted the ball past Wycherley.
That could on a different day, have led to the proverbial floodgates to open, and heads to drop, but, thankfully there was none of that, if anything that galvanised Nantwich, and from there on in, they took control of the game, playing some wonderful football, controlling the midfield with the experience of David Vaughan coming to the fore on this night in a big way, he was everywhere.
One key, but sad factor in Nantwich coming back into the game, was the early substitution of Caspar Hughes going off due to an injury, and Joel Stair coming on in his place. Throughout the side for Nantwich, you had players playing really well, with Prince Haywood intercepting every ball that Altrincham tried to thread through to their striking options, and Tommy Montefiori really causing all manner of issues for the home side’s fullbacks. Heath and Cockerline were putting on a performance for the ages, in how to play as an attacking pair, it was a delight to watch. Indeed, it was the latter that was in the right place, at the right time to tap home the equalising goal, after a shot had been saved by Gould.
To their credit, after the scores become level, the home side looked to get back into the game for a brief period, and they regained the lead, thanks to a sensational goal, by Ben Pringle, who was the standout player for Altrincham, as he cut inside, and shot into the top of Wycherley’s goal, there was nothing that he could have done to stop that.
Again, that could have rocked Nantwich, a goal of such high quality, but again, they just regained their composure, and went about the game, as they had done prior to that wonder goal.
Shortly before the half time whistle, yes, all of this action was still in the first half unbelievably enough, there was a wonderful cross put in, and that earlier substitution paid huge dividends as Joel Stair with a low diving header from just about the penalty spot beat Gould, and the Dabbers were back level, what a half of football this was turning out to be! That wasn’t the end of the action however, as the next bit of action, would have had even Jurgen Klopp smiling ear to ear, as in injury time, the whole of the Nantwich team it seemed, hassled, and harried, and pressed the Altrincham defence, into sloppy pass, and Cockerline found himself in front of goal, and he slotted it away, to put the away side into the lead!
This was fantasy football of the very highest order, and all in the first half! To the delight of the travelling fans the half time whistle went very soon after. If anyone thought that there would be a backlash by Altrincham in the second half, and a capitulation by Nantwich, then they would have been very wrong, as the second half started out very much like the first half had finished, with Nantwich on top and in control of the ball. Heath and Cockerline were playing like they had played with each other for years; they were causing untold carnage to the Robbins backline. Indeed, Cockerline was very unfortunate to not come away from this game with at least a hat-trick, two times he spun his marker in the box, only to see his shots go inches wide.
It wasn’t until the home side brought on Ryan Colclough that Altrincham looked to get a foothold in this game and put some pressure on Nantwich. He had an immediate impact, as he had a couple of shots that were first saved by Wycherley, and then thankfully for the away fans, deflected wide for a corner.
In the second half, Nantwich defended resolutely, and didn’t allow the hosts to have too many chances, and that is a huge credit to the captain Josh Langley, who marshalled the defence quite brilliantly all night long. Although Altrincham continued to push forward, they couldn’t find to many clear-cut openings, and despite a late Tom Peers header deep into injury time, Nantwich held on for a historic win, and one that was very much deserved. A game against another of the big names in the competition, Stockport now awaits, on what will surely be a game to not be missed. The final score here was Altrincham 2-3 Nantwich, in front of 276 people, although many more will claim to have been here.
Josh Hancock ©
Josh Langley ©