Photo courtesy of George Davidson

Nantwich Town secured a priceless win on the road with a 2-1 victory over play-off chasing Morpeth Town at Craik Park.

The hosts had not lost in 18 matches in all competitions, and not been defeated at home since September, but the Dabbers showed a healthy lack of respect for those numbers by opening the scoring just over 90 seconds in.

Winning the ball back and breaking forward, a hopeful Dabbers through ball was misjudged by the Morpeth defender, and Dan Cockerline was in, he finished in nerveless fashion past Dan Lowson in the Morpeth goal for the perfect start.

Ben Ramsey tried to respond quickly for the home team, drawing a decent save from Matty Gould at his near post.

Cockerline was living in between the right back and right centre back of Morpeth and causing them all kinds of trouble, getting in twice more in that channel in the opening 20 minutes, a tight offside call denying another run through on goal.

Stephen Forster then tested the grip of Gould in atrocious conditions with a zippy low cross that he held well. It was definitely down the sides that Morpeth were attempting to break down the Dabbers defence but before they could do this, they were two goals down.

Shaun Miller continued his recent form of assists, clipping a lateral long ball that Lowson looked favourite to claim, but the mighty frame of Cockerline managed to flick a header past him and into the empty net.

As the half progressed, Liam Noble started to influence things a bit more, a dangerous development as anyone who watched the reverse fixture will remember. He curled first wide, then on target as he began to find his range.

Then, a good strike from Akiel Raffie was not held by Lowson, but the keeper did well to stop Miller from pouncing on the rebound.

Morpeth halved the deficit just two minutes before the break via the penalty spot. Sky Sinclair was adjudged to have tripped the Morpeth attacker, their use of the wings paying off in that moment.

It was no surprise to see Noble step up and slot the penalty away to make the game interesting.

Having squandered a two-goal lead in that October game, there may have been lingering Dabbers fears of history repeating itself. And as Morpeth started the second half well on top, it took a big effort to hang tight.

Ramsey had a chance just 20 seconds into the half, Gould again was alert to save, then a flurry of nasty Noble corners saw the Dabbers backline stand up well to the bombardment.

The Dabbers managed to break up this pressure with the introduction of Tommy Montefiori, who almost immediately had Morpeth scrambling to stop his familiar pace and dribbling ability.

One of his runs led to a free kick on the edge of the box that Matt Bell struck into the wall.

Jake Bickerstaff was introduced for his Nantwich debut, then Tommy charged again, this time getting a shot away, it was well saved by Lowson who somehow managed to get up and bravely block Cockerline who looked sure to get his hat-trick.

Noble hit a free kick wide in the last ten minutes that looked like it was heading in, before Tommy again threatened with a curling strike.

Sean Cooke could quite easily have won a penalty near the end as he lead a counter attack but nothing was given.

The final whistle brought cheers of relief as a crucial win was secured, leaving the Dabbers singing (literally for some) all the way back to Cheshire.

Teams

Morpeth Town: Dan Lowson, Stephen Forster, Wayne Phillips, Ben Sayer, Jeff Henderson, Callum Morris, Jack Foalie (Sean Taylor, 75), Liam Noble, Liam Henderson (Carl Finnigan, 65), Connor Oliver, Ben Ramsey (Andrew Johnson, 65)

Sub not used: Michael Turner

Goal: Noble (pen, 43)

Nantwich Town: Matty Gould, Sky Sinclair, Matty Devine, Troy Bourne, Joel Stair, Matt Bell, Akiel Raffie (Tommy Montefiori, 54), Shaun Miller (Jake Bickerstaff, 61), Dan Cockerline (Joe Malkin, 90), Sean Cooke, Joe Robbins

Subs not used: Connor Heath, Jacob Edwards

Goals: Cockerline (2, 26)

Attendance: 461