All pictures by Jonathan White

Nantwich Town finished on the wrong side of a 5-goal thriller with Radcliffe winning 3-2 at the Optimum Pay Stadium.

There was little to choose between the two sides in the early stages, but a moment of quality provided the opening goal.

Luca Navarro won the ball on the left and slalomed his way past a couple of defenders before being brought down by Prince Haywood for a stonewall penalty.

Player/Manager Bobby Grant dispatched it ruthlessly into the top corner. But after then it was Nantwich who grew into the game.

Tommy Montefiori was a constant menace to the Radcliffe defence, starting on the right wing he was always looking to drift in on his favoured left foot, and for a while was the only Dabbers player willing to have a shot, even if his couple of attempts were off target.

Prince Haywood then let fly but again it cleared the crossbar, then a Caspar Hughes curler that looked on target was headed away, but the momentum was building behind the home side now.

Then, Jamie Morgan somehow steered a header towards goal that was cleared off the line.

The resulting corner was that familiar low ball routine, after looking like it had been underhit towards Sean Cooke, Cooke made the best of it by running on to the ball and clipping it towards the near post, where Joel Stair was there to power in a header for a deserved equaliser on the cusp of half time (pictured below).

However, the momentum that had been built up by the Dabbers was snuffed out just 20 seconds into the second half. What appeared to be a routine worked on by Radcliffe straight from the kick-off was initially cut out, but a long ball splitting the Dabbers defence allowed for Grant again to run through and score easily, too easily.

But Nantwich reacted well to this disappointment and were back into their rhythm shortly after, a good link-up between Cooke and Morgan seeing Cooke have a good effort blocked.

It was 2-2 not long after, a long range effort from Connor Heath (pictured below) bamboozled Cameron Belford who seemed to be diving in the opposite direction to the ball but the Dabbers weren’t complaining.

 

Heath had another go from distance that Belford fumbled again, this time it dropped out for a corner.

Both teams sought a winner but the game became more scrappy, even so you felt there would be a winner, and there was.

A scuffle in the middle saw Prince Haywood surely fouled, but with nothing given Radcliffe played on and eventually there was a tidy finish from sub Callum Gribbin 10 minutes from time, curling beyond the dive of Andy Wycherley.

Montefiori was put through the middle in the latter stages, and one long ball had him in behind the Radcliffe defence late on, but his hesitancy to shoot off his right foot saw a defender get back and tackle away.

A late bouncing ball in front of the Radcliffe goal could have gone anywhere but it went wide and the Dabbers still remain without a home league win since the opening day of the season.

Teams

Nantwich Town: Andy Wycherley, Joel Stair (Dan Cockerline, 88), Jamie Morgan, Troy Bourne, Josh Langley, Prince Haywood, Tommy Montefiori, Caspar Hughes, Joe Malkin (David Webb, 79), Sean Cooke, Connor Heath

Subs not used: David Vaughan, Joe Mwasile, Shaun Miller

Goals: Stair (44), Heath (55)

Radcliffe: Cameron Belford, Matthew Crothers, Raheem Hanley, Olly Thornley, Jo Cummings, Simon Lenighan, Luca Navarro (Chris Taylor, 75), Jack Baxter, Kevin Spinelli (Kole Hall, 46), Bobby Grant, Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro (Callum Gribbin, 60)

Subs not used: Ben Rydel, Tom Miller

Goals: Grant (15 (pen), 46), Gribbin (80)

Attendance: 351