The Dabbers begin their Pre-Season campaign with a comfortable victory.

After back-to-back null and void seasons, The Dabbers began preparations for the 2021/22 season last night with a 3-1 victory at home to Cymru North side Gresford Athletic, in front of a football-starved crowd who hadn’t watched their local side for 199 days!

The Dabbers side hasn’t changed too much from the one that featured against Hereford in Nantwich’s fial game of the 2020/21 season. So far, there has only been two departures as full back Mike Koral and forward Scott McGowan have both re-joined 1874 Northwich following their promotion to the Northern Premier League. There has also been one addition to Dave Cooke’s side as Carlos “Thommy” Montefiori has joined the club.

It was Thommy who had the first opportunity of the game for The Dabbers. Four minutes in, The Argentinian picked up the ball on the edge of the box before dancing his way past a few tackles. However, when he eventually made space for a shot it was weak and straight at the keeper who saved easily.

Five minutes later The Dabbers scored their first goal of the 2021/22 Pre-Season campaign. James Lawrie showed excellent skill on the edge of the box to work some space and find David Webb who showed great footwork to weave his way into the box, before finding Thommy who calmy found the bottom left corner to score his first ever goal in a Nantwich shirt.

After a very lively opening ten minutes the game settled down as both sides began to get a feel of the ball and string a succession of passes together. In fact, it took until the 26th minute for the game to see its next effort on goal and for The Dabbers, it was well worth the wait. A corner from the left wasn’t dealt with by the Gresford defence allowing Joe Mwasile to poke home from very close range to double his sides lead inside 30 minutes.

Dave Cooke’s men were playing some really good football and they were looking a real threat when they went on the attack. In the 32nd minutes they tried to catch the visitors on the break as Lawrie galloped forward with real intent, His low cross from the right side found Mwasile who took a heavy touch but thankfully it fell to Joe Malkin who saw his shot from the right was turned round the near post by the keeper.

At the break The Dabbers looked very good value for their lead and I’m sure the crowd who had waited a very long time to see some football would have been very pleased with what they had seen so far from their side.

As per most early Pre-Season games the second half XI was very different to the side who played the first half with Cooke changing almost all of his outfield players. These players took a while to find their feet and grow into the game and it took 25 minutes for a shot in anger to be registered, Connor Heath let fly from 25 yards, but it was straight at the keeper who had no trouble holding onto the ball.

As the Nantwich players grew into the game, the chances were coming more often and in the 75th minute The Dabbers added a third goal. Former Crewe academy player Joe Thompson showed great skill on the edge of the box to tee up Callum Saunders who finished expertly from the left side of the box to put the game to bed.

In the 80th minute the visitors had an effort of their own after a corner was cleared as far as the number 6 on the edge of the box who took a touch before striking towards goal, but it was well tipped over by the keeper.

Two minutes later Gresford scored a consolation goal after the referee awarded them a in-direct freekick following a adjudged back-pass. Athletic made the most of this as their rifled home from close range to giving the 10 Nantwich players on the line absolutely no chance.

The referee blew his whistle for the final time to conclude the Dabbers first Pre-Season game of the season. It was a good run out for both sets of players who would have certainly benefited from some game time. For The Dabbers, they would have been pleased to kick off their Pre-Season campaign in the manner that they did.

Next up for Nantwich is a visit from the noisy neighbours, Crewe Alexandra. This is always an excellent occasion between two good sides and im sure the Dabbers will be looking to continue their unbeaten streak against Dave Artell’s men.