Photo courtesy of Gary Chadwick
Nantwich Town’s unbeaten run came to an end with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Lancaster City at the Giant Axe.
The Dabbers started with a back three of Joel Stair, Josh Langley and Troy Bourne, according to Dave Cooke to ‘match up their formation’, with Jamie Morgan and Tommy Montefiori playing at wing back.
Lancaster looked a threat from set pieces from early on, flinging in a few long throw ins to test that back three and keeper Sam Tickle, but they stood up to these tests very comfortably.
Morgan’s more advanced position allowed him to get more involved in the attacks, a tackle high up the pitch won him the ball but the cross was wayward.
A Sean Cooke free kick tested Lancaster keeper Curtis Anderson, who got down well to his left to stop Cooke bagging his 110th Dabbers goal.
Then Lancaster came close at the other end, Christian Sloan just missing the far post with a fine effort that he just couldn’t wrap his foot around enough.
There hadn’t been much from open play from either side, so when there was a goal it was little surprise that it came from a set piece.
A whipped Lancaster corner caught out the Dabbers defence and Jack Byrne was well placed to head in and delight the bumper home crowd on Non-League Day.
There was little else of note in the first half but there was never the feeling that Lancaster were a clearly better team than the Dabbers.
In the second half, Lancaster striker Enoch Likoy shot powerfully but straight at Tickle, before Jake Bickerstaff showed great centre forward play at the other end but just saw his shot blocked.
Nathan Reid volleyed well over the bar later on, then Joel Stair headed away very well under pressure from Likoy in his own box.
Bourne got in another great clearance a few minutes later, then substitute Akiel Raffie tried to open things up, finding Bickerstaff with a low cross that he tried to poke in at the near post, again there was a Lancaster foot in the way.
Connor Heath was then found by a sharp ball over top by Cooke, but it was the same old story as again Lancaster got a deflection in to stop it going on target.
The antics of the Lancaster players were extremely effective at breaking the game down, and the Dabbers were running out of time to get anything out of this.
In the final minute of stoppage time, Jake Bickerstaff showed real quality again to turn inside but, you guessed it, Lancaster blocked it away.
It’s real, the pain the Dabbers feel, as a run of over 500 minutes without conceding, the best run since 1964, comes to an end along with the unbeaten run, but it’s a run that means this defeat isn’t as damaging as it would have been.
Lancaster City: Curtis Anderson, Sam Bailey, Liam Brockbank, Jack Byrne, Andy Teague (Joseph Blanchard, 41), Glenn Steel, Christian Sloan, Simon Wills, Enoch Likoy (Robert Wilson, 79), Charlie Bailey, Nathan Reid (Joseph Rodwell-Grant, 83)
Subs not used: Ben Anderson, Joel Davidson
Goal: Byrne (26)
Nantwich Town: Sam Tickle, Joel Stair (Joe Malkin, 83), Jamie Morgan, Troy Bourne, Josh Langley, Matt Bell (Luke Nock, 71), Tommy Montefiori (Akiel Raffie, 58), Joe Robbins, Jake Bickerstaff, Sean Cooke, Connor Heath
Subs not used: Jon Moran, Jacob Edwards