Scott McGowan scored his first two goals for Nantwich as he helped his side to a 3-1 victory over Workington AFC in the Buildbase FA Trophy First Round.
The Dabbers were dealt an early blow when Matty Devine went down after an innocuous looking challenge and swiftly had to be substituted for Callum Saunders with a suspected dislocated shoulder after just eight minutes.
It seemed as if that sub would bring about a formation change but Saunders slotted into Devine’s vacant left back post, which worked to great effect later on.
The first 15 minutes could be said to show two teams who you could tell hadn’t played for 5 weeks. Eventually though, things began to settle and it was Nantwich who started to impose themselves on their opponents.
Before that, Greg Hall was tested by Workington’s David Symington. From that chance, Luke Walsh led a break and played a clever through ball to Scott McGowan who was narrowly offside.
Then a moment of brilliance broke the deadlock. Saunders won a 50/50 challenge with a Workington defender on the left edge of the box, he then dribbled his way across the left by-line before beating Jim Atkinson from the narrowest of angles, a precise and brilliant finish.
Ben Harrison was forced to clear while facing his own goal soon after and did so very well. A couple of Workington attempts were charged down as well to maintain the Dabbers momentum.
That momentum grew further on 31 minutes as Dave Cooke’s side doubled the lead with another well-worked goal. A raking pass to the right side was somehow controlled with his head by David Webb, the kind of head control a sea lion would be proud of.
He then preceded to charge down the right touchline and managed to pick out Scott McGowan who cheekily back heeled it past a despairing Atkinson. It was not the finish of someone who’d been waiting a while for his first Dabbers goal, and if they’re all like that then the fans are in for a treat.
McGowan looked like he could add to his tally, stinging the palms of Atkinson and then seeing another shot blocked away.
Workington’s best effort came in the final minute of first half stoppage time, a free kick by Hubbold that left Hall rooted to his spot as the ball struck the bar and went over.
The second half slipped into a pattern of Workington pressure as Nantwich legs started to fade. The visitors played with an attractive style that was starting to pay dividends.
However, it was their finishing that was letting them down. A shot was parried away by Hall early in the second half, then an effort that was neither cross nor shot flew over.
But the pressure did tell. Josh Langley nearly turned a ball into his own net, Hall getting down well to turn around the post.
Then, a dramatic defection lifted a harmless ball over Hall, Brad Carroll nodded towards the vacant goal but Harrison was there to clear off the line.
It was in bizarre circumstances that Workington got back into the tie, a foul awarded by the referee, initially it looked like it was a free kick but soon it became clear a penalty had been given. As it was, Conor Tinnion sent Hall the wrong way to set up a Grandstand finish.
Workington kept pushing, and might have taken the tie to penalties, Hall coming out bravely at the feet of Hubbold then seeing a 6 yard effort pulled agonisingly wide on the cusp of the 90 minute mark.
As so often happens, a team trying to get back into a tie gets caught on the counter, Scott McGowan charging down a ball over the top, Atkinson had come flying out of his goal, McGowan knocked it round him and clipped it into the empty net from about 50 yards out to seal the tie in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
The draw for the Second Round is released today at 1pm, with the game next Tuesday, so keep an eye on our social media and website for the latest.
Nantwich Town: Hall, Bourne, Devine (Saunders, 8), Langley, Harrison, Hughes, Webb, Haywood, Heath (Lawrie, 63), McGowan, Walsh (Koral, 90)
Subs not used: Mwasile, Hawkins, Parker, Pope
Goals: Saunders, 20, McGowan, 31, 90+5
Workington AFC: Atkinson, Clarke (Jerome, 46), Brockbank, Wordsworth, Smith, Casson (Wooding-Holt, 73), Symington, Carroll, Potts (Bowman, 60), Hubbold, Tinnion
Subs not used: Kelly, Robertson, Lightfoot, Ascroft
Goals: Tinnion, 77 (pen)