Two goals in two minutes from Joe Malkin completed a thrilling comeback as Nantwich Town beat Gainsborough Trinity 2-1 at the Weaver Stadium to open their BetVictor Northern Premier campaign.
Gavin Allot gave the visitors from Lincolnshire the lead 10 minutes into the second half with a clinical finish. That lead lasted about 15 minutes as Malkin was in the right place to nod in the leveller, before completing the rapid turnaround with a delightful lob just two minutes later.
In a first half short on clear cut chances, Gainsborough’s Kingsley James certainly had the clearest. After good work down the right-hand side, the ball was put on a plate for James about 12 yards out but he pulled it wide.
A long throw-in also tested the Dabbers’ defence, getting flicked on twice by Trinity players but not finding its way towards goal.
The Dabbers were largely limited to efforts from distance in the half, with Sean Cooke and James Lawrie both testing the Trinity keeper.
Joe Mwasile looked most likely to make something happen for the Dabbers in the first 45, nearly getting on the end of a pinpoint through ball. However, it was not a half that would live long in the memory.
The second half could not be more different with goals and chances galore thrilling the 315 spectators.
Gainsborough started it the stronger and took the lead after some great link up play between their two strikers, Gavin Allot and Ashley Worsfold, with Allot firing home smartly on his league debut for the club on 54 minutes.
The response from the Dabbers was a positive one, a tactical shift which saw Caspar Hughes move into midfield allowed more support for the forward players Malkin and Joe Mwasile, whose pace and power was a menace to the Trinity defence throughout.
When the equaliser arrived, it was in bizarre circumstances. The wind appeared to hold up an innocuous cross into the box, Trinity keeper Joe Green misjudged its flight and it bounced off the crossbar for Malkin to nod in, who had had little joy up to that point, but was in the right place at the right time as all good strikers seem to be. It was a goal reminiscent of Divock Origi’s winner in last season’s Merseyside Derby, but obviously much more important.
Then, just a minute or so after the game restarted, the Dabbers had the lead. The ball broke through to Malkin and he expertly lifted it over the onrushing Green to complete a brilliant comeback.
There was no question of luck in this goal, just an instinctive piece of quality.
Malkin could have secured a remarkable hat trick were it not for a crucial interception, substitute Will Saxon found space down the right and almost found the Dabbers’ no. 9.
A sometimes physical game was largely allowed to flow by referee Matthew Scholes, and this really allowed the tension to ramp up as the visitors looked to get something from the game.
They had chances to do so as the clock ticked down. Greg Hall pulled off some crucial saves, first coming out of his goal to punch clear, then getting back quickly to tip over an Allot header as the ball came back in.
Finally, in second half stoppage time, a massive goal mouth scramble was stopped by Hall dropping onto the ball amongst a flurry of boots on the goal line. The stopper got a huge ovation as he emerged from the melee and completed a solid debut.
And that was enough to open the season with a victory for Dave Cooke’s men against a dogged opponent. There is little time for the boys to rest on their laurels as they head to Buxton for their first away game of the season on Tuesday.
Tickets are priced at £10 for adults, £6 for concessions and £2 for children at the Silverdale, or you can follow commentary on Dabbers Live.