Sean Cooke’s 100th goal for Nantwich Town helped them to a hard-fought 3-2 win over Stalybridge Celtic at the Optimum Pay Stadium.
410 spectators were in to welcome the return of league football in what will hopefully be a full and exciting season.
It didn’t start too well for the Dabbers though, with Stalybridge taking the lead from the penalty spot after 11 minutes.
Scott Bakkor was brought down by Joel Stair, and Bakkor converted it himself, sending keeper Cameron Terry the wrong way.
Bakkor and fellow striker Jack Ryan posed a clear and present danger throughout this period, linking up well and seeming to target Stair who started in a less familair right back role.
Celtic caught the Dabbers on a 2v2 which they were lucky to escape from, then Bakkor tried his luck again and stung the palms of Terry.
Nantwich eventually played their way back into the game, and it was Thommy who made things happen, forcing a brilliant save from Shenton in the Stalybridge goal with a left-footed shot that looked destined for the top corner.
The Argentine didn’t have to wait much longer for his first league goal though, Thommy was the pinball wizard who poked in following a goalmouth scramble to make it 1-1 just before the half hour mark.
Bakkor dragged a shot wide of Terry’s left post, then Stair flashed a cross/shot wide of their post as the game began to really open up.
Then a historic moment, Sean Cooke was fouled in the box, he also decided to take the penalty himself and slammed in his 100th Nantwich goal in front of a joyous home crowd, becoming only the 8th man to reach a century of goals in the club’s history.
The second half saw the Dabbers continue their strong finish to the first, and another new signing got himself a goal.
Shaun Miller added a third just before the hour, flicking the ball over a defender and finishing into the far corner expertly. It was most definitely the finish of a man with over 100 Football League goals and surely the first of many.
Stair could have really wrapped things up with a header that he couldn’t steer on target from a Cooke free-kick.
That gave the visitors hope and they capitalised soon after, Stephen Brogan first thumped the crossbar with an excellent free-kick, a ricochet somehow trickling wide for a corner. Brogan took that corner and saw it go through the hands of keeper Terry and all the way in to set up a nervy last 10 minutes.
Terry responded well to that lapse by making a good save from a low Bakkor shot soon after.
And that was enough, Nantwich were able to hold on for an important opening-day victory on a great day for Sean Cooke.
Nantwich Town: Terry, J. Stair, Bourne, Langley, Harrison, Hughes, Webb (Haywood, 83), Lawrie, Miller (Saunders, 71), Cooke, Thommy (T. Stair, 71)
Subs not used: Devine, Hatton
Goals: Thommy (27), Cooke (pen, 44), Miller (58)
Stalybridge Celtic: Shenton, Barlow (Smith-Brown, 69), Brogan, Evans, Quansah, O’Halloran, Doyle (Deacon, 69), Wedgbury, Ryan, Bakkor, Harris
Subs not used: Padden, Hughes, Nyaupembe
Goals: Bakkor (pen, 11), Brogan (79)