A late penalty from James Lawrie was enough to snatch a memorable 2-1 victory for Nantwich over local neighbours Crewe Alexandra in both sides’ first pre-season outing ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.

This year’s running of the friendly was tinged with emotion as it was the first to be played for the Barry Daly Memorial Trophy, in memory of ‘Big Baz’, a loyal and loved member of the Crewe Alex family who passed away last month.

The Dabbers started confidently, and were rewarded in spectacular style. Sean Cooke received the ball on the left hand side in the eighth minute, drove forward and unleashed a brilliant strike from 25 yards out that flew into the top right hand corner, Crewe keeper Dave Richards at full stretch could not get close.

Nantwich’s well organised defence mostly restricted the Alex to shots from distance, Callum Ainley and a couple of trialists guilty of wayward efforts.

There were opportunities for Nantwich to deservedly increase their lead before the break. Firstly, a fine whipped cross from Caspar Hughes was headed firmly against the post by Joe Malkin with the keeper again beaten.

Then, just before the half hour mark, Malkin flashed the ball across the penalty area and debutant Will Saxon could not stretch far enough to divert the ball in.

Crewe’s best chance of the first half came from trialist Lassana Mendes who headed straight at another debutant, keeper Greg Hall.

The Alex changed their entire XI at half time and it didn’t take long for the new team to fire up. A well-worked move opened up space for Perry Ng to cross for Daniel Powell to score from close range on his Crewe debut after signing from Northampton Town.

The away side began to control possession more as the second half progressed but chances were hard to come by, Harry Pickering seeing two attempts well blocked.

As the Dabbers made more substitutions, the game did lose its rhythm. But just as it looked if the
game would head to penalties, a mix up in the Crewe defence changed the game. An apparent miscommunication between substitute goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen and Eddie Nolan saw the ball ricochet to Malkin, who was then brought down by Jaaskelainen and won a penalty. It was James Lawrie who stepped up and expertly sent Jaaskelainen the wrong way, giving the Dabbers a memorable lead once more.

A snapshot from Powell was the Alex’s best chance to snatch an equaliser but it zipped off target, as did a shot on the rebound from Lowery, but they could not find a leveller and the Dabbers held on for an excellent victory to kick off the pre-season.

After the game, Nantwich captain Hughes was awarded the inaugural Barry Daly Memorial Trophy by Nantwich chairman, Clive Jackson, Crewe chairman John Bowler, and Barry’s widow Judith, who was a guest of honour alongside other members of his family, as both teams watched and remembered their much-missed friend.

The Dabbers’ next exhibition is this upcoming Saturday, as they host League One outfit Bury at the Weaver Stadium, for a 3pm kick-off. Tickets are priced at £8 for adults, £5 for concessions and £2 for U16s (or free with a full-paying adult).

Nantwich Town: Greg Hall, Caspar Hughes (Niall Cope 82′), Matty Devine (Josh Williams 73′), Joe Davis, Josh Langley (David Webb 75′), Troy Bourne, James Lawrie, Matt Bell (Harry Goode 75′), Joe Malkin, Sean Cooke (Luke Walsh 66′), Will Saxon (Joe Mwasile 52′)

Subs not used: Jacob Holding (GK), Ollie Hawkins (GK), Kallam Boyle

Crewe Alexandra: Dave Richards, Travis Johnson, Nicky Hunt, Charlie Fox, Luke Offord, Ryan Wintle, James Jones, Lassana Mendes, Charlie Kirk, Callum Ainley, Chris Porter

Second Half XI: Will Jaaskelainen, Perry Ng, Christian Mbulu, Eddie Nolan, Rio Adebisi, Josh Lundstram, Oli Finney, Tommy Lowery, Paul Taylor, Harry Pickering, Daniel Powell