Radcliffe came from behind to win comfortably over Nantwich Town with a 3-1 victory at the Neuven Stadium.
The timing of the goals for the home side were crucial, with the equaliser coming both three minutes after the Dabbers had taken the lead and just five minutes before half-time, and their second just four minutes into the second half.
Radcliffe started the stronger and created the first openings of the match. The ever-dangerous Bobby Grant curled wide early on, before playing in a free kick that was flicked wide by Matthew Crothers.
Simon Lenighan was a commanding presence at the back for Radcliffe throughout, despite starting at centre back he regularly engaged the Dabbers high up the pitch, and while this did see him get booked early on for a bad challenge on Prince Haywood, it meant both Sean Cooke and Shaun Miller had a difficult time finding space to create.
Joe Mwasile was probably the Dabbers biggest threat as he often escaped the centre backs and pinned the Radcliffe right back Adam Dawson who likes to go forward, a ball played through to him caused some trouble but the offside flag denied him.
Crothers was causing problems again shortly after, receiving the ball after some powerful work by Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro against Jack Hatton and hitting the side netting.
Then, against the run of play, the Dabbers took the lead. A teasing cross from the left foot of Hatton was not sufficiently cleared and Sean Cooke was able to float an excellent ball to Mwasile to tap in from close range at the far post. Radcliffe were furious that no offside was given but this was a goal they could have prevented.
The home team weren’t effected at all by this setback and deservedly equalised soon after. Moments after hitting the crossbar, Radcliffe came again, Crothers was able to dribble past what felt like half the Nantwich team before using the space that created to slide in Grant, who calmly squared for an unmarked Akpa-Akpro to finish high into the net.
A long ball from Radcliffe keeper Cameron Belford nearly created another goal just before the break, Grant breaking away but Cameron Terry was out quickly to challenge.
Four minutes into the second half, the Dabbers issues with set pieces reared their head again as Radcliffe took the lead. Terry could clearly be heard shouting ‘keeper’ as the corner was curled in, but a combination of bad communication and poor all round defending meant the ball was patted meekly out and Lenighan was quickest to react, slamming in from about 12 yards.
The third goal was contentious and proved decisive. A ball was floated into the Nantwich box and a scuffle between Troy Bourne and Grant was seen as a Bourne foul and a Radcliffe penalty. It looked like both players were battling for position but it was hard to see either player being more guilty of a foul than the other. Grant took the penalty and sent Terry the wrong way.
In truth though, Nantwich deserved nothing from the game, a couple of Theo Stair balls in caused concern and a late Sean Cooke free-kick was well blocked by their wall but this was Radcliffe’s day. Mickelover away on Tuesday night provide the next test of this up and down start to the season.
Radcliffe: Belford (C), Dawson, Miller, Lenighan (Williams, 75), Cummings, Thornley, Carroll, Crothers (Gomes, 85), Akpa-Akpro, Grant (Hall, 77), Young
Subs not used: Ashton, Jones
Goals: Akpa-Akpro (40), Lenighan (49), Grant (69, pen)
Nantwich Town: Terry, J. Stair, Hatton, Harrison, Langley, Bourne, Haywood (Lawrie, 56), Hughes (C), Miller (Heath, 56), Cooke, Mwasile (T. Stair, 57)
Subs not used: Montefiori, Sy
Goal: Mwasile (37)