Pictures by Jonathan White
Nantwich Town made it three wins on the bounce with a 2-0 victory over FC United of Manchester at the Optimum Pay Stadium.
Ewan Bange shot over early on for FC, before Dan Cockerline did the same for Nantwich whilst almost on the floor, Dan Lavercombe held well.
There were flashes of the growing partnership between Cockerline and Jake Bickerstaff, Cockerline having another effort held after good hold up play from Bickerstaff, then Matt Bell shot wide from distance.
Mike Potts managed to squeeze the ball across the face of goal for FC, Bange though wasn’t on the same wavelength and missed the chance of an easy tap in.
The half was largely quiet but burst into life on 38 minutes. A smart move that was started by Matty Gould’s kick out, a beautiful cushioned touch and lay-off by Sean Cooke to Cockerline, who nudged it back to Cooke who then slid it through first time to Bickerstaff.
Bickerstaff got the break of the ball, the FC defence seemed to be waiting for an offside flag that never came, and he slotted it calmly away. (Celebration below)
Joel Stair headed over from a Cooke corner (pictured below) and headed bravely away an FC corner as the Dabbers went in ahead at the break.
A Luke Grffifths effort in the second half summed up FC in an attacking sense, wayward and wild as they tried to get back into the game. They were strangely muted, unlike their travelling fans who didn’t stop chanting throughout, and in the absence of a drum took to battering the back of the Ice Cream Van stand.
There was a half chance for Paul Ennis who’s snapshot was blocked by the dominant Troy Bourne.
But the Dabbers doubled their lead on 70 minutes. FC United got caught 2v1 and Joel Stair played in Akiel Raffie who was able to run through to score his first Nantwich goal with a impudent dink over Lavercombe (pictured below). It was Raffie himself who started the move with a header away from an FC corner, so it was only right that he was the one to finish it off.
Nantwich never looked in danger in the game, a feeling that’s been hard to come by particularly at home but has come at the most important time of the season.
FC did though get a potential route back into the match when they won a penalty after an alleged foul by Josh Langley. Langley told us after the game that the referee had admitted he made the wrong decision after watching the incident back.
Paul Ennis took but it was saved brilliantly by the solid right hand of the flying Kiwi Matty Gould (pictured below). This was Nantwich’s day as they made it three in a row with three clean sheets to boot.
Nantwich Town: Matty Gould, Joel Stair, Jamie Morgan, Troy Bourne, Josh Langley, Matt Bell, Akiel Raffie, Joe Robbins, Dan Cockerline (Connor Heath, 90), Sean Cooke, Jake Bickerstaff
Subs not used: Shaun Miller, Luke Nock, Tommy Montefiori, Jacob Edwards
Goals: Bickerstaff (38), Raffie (70)
FC United of Manchester: Dan Lavercombe, Jonathan Smith, Adam Dodd, Luke Griffiths (Joe Duckworth, 77), Aaron Morris, Jorge Sikora (Michael Donohue, 46), Ali Waddecar (Josh Galloway, 60), Mike Potts, Regan Linney, Paul Ennis, Ewan Bange
Subs not used: Chris Taylor, Ryan Hamer