Nantwich Town’s solid pre-season campaign continued this weekend with a closely fought 1-1 draw against Southern Premier Central side Stourbridge at the Weaver Stadium.
The Dabbers opened the scoring through Jamie Reed just before half time, while Glassboys striker Aaron Lloyd found the leveller for the visitors midway through the second half. The match marked the home debut of defender Ben Harrison, who signed this week from Altrincham.
Both goalkeepers were called into action during a close first half. A free kick whipped in brilliantly by Sean Cooke was met with a firm header by Joe Malkin, but was palmed over by Stourbridge keeper James Wren at almost point blank range.
After twenty minutes, a free kick from around twenty yards out was bent round the wall cleverly by Matt Bell but Wren was there again to push it around the post.
In a sign of what may be to come this season, one of Stourbridge’s best moves came from a player receiving the ball from a goal kick inside his own penalty area, which is now allowed. The resulting intricate passing move came to nothing with an offside called by the assistant referee.
The visitors’ best chance of the half came from midfielder Mike McGrath, who cut in from the right on the half hour and hit a powerful low shot which Greg Hall stretched to save, the Dabbers keeper getting up quickly to stop a rebound from Will Groccott.
As the half looked to be petering out, the Dabbers were able to strike first. A neat bit of quick passing on the right hand side, something that had been tried unsuccessfully a couple of times earlier in the half, finally came off, with Cooke and Caspar Hughes combining to play in Reed, who drove into the area and finished calmly.
If the first half was edged by Nantwich, the second half was more in favour for the visitors, who had more of the play.
Cooke was a constant thorn in the side of the Stourbridge defence, drawing fouls with his mazy runs towards goal before his substitution on the hour mark.
It took some brave defending from substitutes Troy Bourne and Joel Stair to stop dangerous moves from the away side, but the equaliser did eventually arrive.
Goalkeeper Hall got a backpass caught under his feet and Aaron Lloyd was quickest to react, dispossessing Hall and rolling the ball into the vacant net.
But Nantwich were able to rally and created some openings in the latter stages, the ball broke to captain Hughes in the box but he was quickly smothered by Wren.
And a break down the right hand side by Bourne led to a shot from Tom Powell who fired over, as Nantwich’s promising finish couldn’t produce a winner.
The Dabbers conclude their pre-season program next Saturday at home against Leek Town, with tickets priced at £5 for adults, £3 for concessions and £1 for U16s.
Nantwich: Hall, Hughes (C) (Lawrie 83′), Devine (Boyle 60′), Davis (Stair 75′), Langley (Bourne 60′), Harrison, Lawrie (Webb 60′), Malkin (Walsh 60′), Cooke (Powell 60′), Reed (Mwasile 60′)
Subs not used: O. Hawkins (GK)
Stourbridge: Wren, Green (Taylor 83′), Brown, Winwood, Williams, Carter (C), McGrath (Bellis 60′), Grocott (Turton 60′), Lloyd (Landell 78′), Mills (Archer 83′), Foster (Cook 83′)
Subs not used: Price (GK)