Report by Adam Bateman, photo by Jonathan White

A new season brings new hope, and new expectations, and in front of a packed Swansway Stadium, Nantwich took to the pitch against their local rivals, Crewe Alexandra for the Barry Daly Memorial Trophy in the first pre-season game ahead of the new season.  

With a few players unavailable to manager Dave Cooke, there was an unfamiliar look to the starting eleven that took to the pitch. 

On what was a really good looking pitch, and perfect weather, the teams started the game, and the home side started off well, with Caspar Hughes being the first one to have a shot, with it flashing over the bar from the edge of the area, a warning of what was to come perhaps for Crewe.  

Sadly, after just a few minutes more, an error at the back from Scott Butler, where he poked the ball into his own net, allowed the visitors to take a somewhat of an undeserved lead. 

His teammates tried to rally him and he was soon back to his best, as he had more defending to do.  

Nantwich looked to come back into the game, and Connor Heath tried his best to test the visiting goalkeeper Dave Richards with a shot that was tipped round the post for a corner.  

From that resulting corner, Joe Robbins shot just wide, after a well worked routine, that had the crowd applauding the effort. 

From there it was a fairly even game, with both sides looking to score, with Chris Long for the Alex looking dangerous out wide.  

For the Dabbers, as the lone man up front, Dan Cockerline was tightly marked, and was finding it hard to bring others into play.  

The best chance for the home side came on the half hour mark, when Heath was put through, one on one, but sadly Richards did very well to thwart him, and the home side remained behind. 

After that, Crewe looked to regain their dominance, which resulted in a Griffiths free-kick that was saved very well by Louis Gray in the home net.  

Just before half time though, the lead for the away side was doubled, with some great work out wide by Long, who put a lovely ball into the box, and Adam Wilson was on hand to tap the ball into an empty net.  

That was how the teams went into half time, with Crewe leading by two goals.  

From there, in the second half, both sides made a lot of changes, to give a fair few players a chance to get some much needed minutes, and to get some fitness ahead of the season.  

Heath was very lively still forcing some dangerous situations, before he was replaced by Callum Huxley.  

One change that had an impact was the change of goalkeeper for Nantwich, as Louis Gray was replaced by Reece Quinn, and the substitute goalkeeper was called into action, but sadly, he was adjudged to have brought down Bassala Sambou, and Crewe had a penalty, and a chance to add to their goal total on the day.  

The man brought down for the pen, dusted himself down to take it, but Quinn redeemed himself, as he dived down to his right and he saved the penalty, but very unfortunately for him, he pushed it out and Sambou, as all good players should, followed up and put the ball into the net.  

As such, the visitors went three goals to the good, and the home side had a very big mountain to climb.  

Joe Robbins tried to get the Dabbers back into the game, with a shot that went just over the bar, and that was just about it.  

The game finished with a Crewe win, but it was nonetheless a very good run out for manager Dave Cooke, and for the players that took to the pitch, in front of a very sizeable 1216 crowd.  

Teams: 

Nantwich Town: Louis Gray, Jacob Edwards, Matty Devine, Scott Butler, Troy Bourne, Caspar Hughes, Connor Heath, Matt Bell ©, Dan Cockerline, Joe Robbins, Joe Mwasile 

Subs:- Shaun Miller, Reece Quinn, Jack Sherratt, Callum Huxley, Matty France, Kobe Nelson, Alfonso Castellano, Josh Thornton, Marius Mocanu 

Crewe Alexandra: 

First Half Team:- Dave Richards, Kelvin Mellor, Lewis Billington, Regan Griffiths, Billy Sass-Davies, Rod McDonald, Chris Long, Tariq Uwakwe, Coiurtney Baker-Richardson, Chris Sang, Adam Wilson 

Second Half Team:- Tom Booth, Connor O’Riordan, Bassala Sambou, Dan Agyei, Callum Ainley, Matus Holicek, Owen Lunt, Kornell McDonald, Charlie Finney, Luke Offord, Chris Sang 

Goals: Butler (OG, 3), Wilson (43), Sambou (81)

Attendance: 1216