An 87th minute goal was enough for Leek Town to secure a 2-1 victory over Nantwich at Harrison Park.

Tim Grice had given the home side the lead early in the second half, before a brilliant Sean Cooke free kick brought things level 8 minutes later.

Both sides had opportunities in the first half, a Leek winger curling narrowly wide and causing trouble for Matty Devine all through the first 45.

Both Leek centre-forwards were making troublesome runs between the Dabbers’ centre-halfs, forcing a couple of changes of system during the match, one of which was enforced with an injury to Ben Harrison, with James Lawrie replacing him and Prince Haywood dropping into the back three.

Connor Heath was also making some good runs in behind the Leek defence, a searching ball from Devine just out of reach of Heath who would have been through on goal.

Heath was found with a second ball into the box from a corner, the Leek defence asked in vain for an offside which wasn’t given, and Heath might have done better with his finish which missed the far post.

Just after the half-hour, a Leek striker tried a cheeky back-heel finish from a low ball into the box, similar to Callum Saunders’ goal against Whitchurch at the weekend, but not with the same outcome as it flicked the side netting.

Heath then went on a charging run, powering past a couple of Leek defenders, the only thing lacking was the finish as it missed the corner of post and bar.

The Dabbers did have the ball in the net just before half-time, Saunders glancing in a Cooke free-kick but from an offside position so the half ended goalless.

Leek opened the scoring very early in the second half, a ball played through was misjudged by the Nantwich defence, leaving Grice with a free run at goal, and his finish was unerring across debutant Dabbers keeper Andy Walklate.

Saunders had a chance to equalise a few minutes later but couldn’t get his feet sorted to finish, Leek then broke and only a Haywood lunge and deflection stopped a possible second for Leek.

Nantwich needed a moment of individual brilliance to get back into the game, and once again it was Sean Cooke who provided it. A central free-kick from about 25 yards out was curled hard and low into the bottom corner for 1-1. Questions should be asked about the placement of the Leek wall, but that shouldn’t take away from the quality of Cooke’s strike.

Walklate was forced into action by Grice again with 15 to go, flinging out a right hand to turn a low shot around the post.

Leek’s squad featured former Dabbers Will Saxon and Matt Bell who both got good receptions from the Nantwich supporters.

But it was the Leek supporters cheering loudest by the end as they got a late winner. The initial shot was bent in from the right, Walklate parried more out than away and Lewis Short was there to side foot a volley in off the crossbar.

After three consecutive away matches with mixed results, the Dabbers return to the Weaver Stadium this Saturday to face Southport.


Leek Town

Goals: Grice, 47; Short, 87

Nantwich Town: Walklate, Koral (Jones, 77), Devine, Stair, Langley, Harrison (Lawrie, 31), Webb (Malkin, 63), Haywood, Saunders, Cooke, Heath (Mwasile, 77)

Goals: Cooke, 56

Attendance: 250