All pictures by Jonathan White

Nantwich Town produced a stirring comeback to beat Barwell 2-1 at the Optimum Pay Stadium and book our place in the First Round Proper of the FA Trophy.

The game started pretty uneventfully from both sides but the game was shaken into life with a big decision from the referee on 21 minutes.

Prince Haywood was given a straight red card for Nantwich after leaving a foot in on a Barwell midfielder, to the dismay of the home crowd. The challenge itself wasn’t great, the red seemed harsh, but it was the passage of play just before that infuriated Dave Cooke.

Joel Stair was inexplicably taken out in mid-air, but play was allowed to continue. David Vaughan was then tripped in midfield, but play was allowed to continue. It was with tensions inflamed that Haywood maybe overdid things with his tackle, but it should never had got to that point, poor control of the game shown by referee Richard Abson.

Barwell looked to take advantage of this and didn’t take long to do so with an opening goal 10 minutes later, a 1-2 was worked out to right back Kyron Stabana who unleashed a great strike into the bottom corner past debutant goalkeeper Andy Wycherley (pictured below)

A player down and now a goal down, things were looking bleak for the Dabbers. But, perhaps fuelled by the sense of injustice from that sending off, Nantwich came again in brilliant style.

A corner forced just a minute before half time was headed off the crossbar by Dan Cockerline, but it was the other Dabbers giant Connor O’Riordan who headed in the rebound for his first Nantwich goal in only his second appearance at centre-back after signing on loan from Crewe (pictured below)

The flurry of Dabbers attacking continued after further encouragement from Cooke at the interval, Joe Mwasile hit the side netting with a header early on.

A couple of handball shouts were waved away by the ref, but the momentum was firmly with the 10 men now and it was thankfully translated into a second goal soon after.

The Nantwich comeback was completed as a loose ball was slammed in by Joe Mwasile on the hour mark (pictured below) after bringing down a cross expertly put in by Cockerline, a remarkably similar type of goal to the one Mwasile scored in the FA Cup against Barwell last season.

Good saves from Barwell keeper Liam Castle denied Cockerline (pictured below) and Mwasile from adding to the lead before Barwell tried to pull the tie back to penalties.

Brady Hickey fired wide inside the last 10 minutes, and it took some great hands from Wycherley to stop Tristan Dunkley from a sure fire goal, nabbing the ball off the Barwell forward’s forehead.

And that was the last action as an excellent comeback saw the Dabbers through, the kind of turnaround that was becoming common over the last couple of seasons. It means Nantwich are through to play our old Cup friends Grantham Town at home on the 13th November.

Teams

Nantwich Town: Wycherley, Stair, Devine, Bourne, O’Riordan, Haywood, Montefiori (Miller, 87), Vaughan, Cockerline, Mwasile (Pope, 77), Heath

Subs not used: Hawkins, Cooke, Parker, Edwards, Terry

Goals: O’Riordan (44), Mwasile (60)

Red card: Haywood (21)

Barwell: Castle, Stabana, Nisevic, Brown-Hill (Powell, 59), Brown, Edjenguele, Bower (Davidson-Miller, 51), Pepe-Ngoma, Dunkley, Hickey, Warren (Browne, 74)

Subs not used: Stephens

Goal: Stabana (31)

Attendance: 234