An action-packed second half saw Nantwich Town come out on top in a thrilling Buildbase FA Trophy tie against Redditch United.
A brace from Callum Saunders and a screamer from Prince Haywood were enough to overcome a stubborn opponent who never knew when they were beaten.
The first half was a scrappy affair with few clear chances to speak of. A couple of Redditch corners caused danger early on, one cleared well by Haywood with a low header.
Sean Cooke played in a good early cross that was just nicked off Saunders’ head, then just a few minutes later Saunders cut the ball back for his strike partner Connor Heath but his shot was blocked.
That early cross proved to be the last act for Sean Cooke who was forced off injured after just 15 minutes, with Luke Walsh replacing him.
Joel Stair had a header that was heading on target before being scrambled away by Redditch, then Heath, on free-kick duty after Cooke’s withdrawal, pulled a dead ball wide of the left post.
Redditch number 9 Alex Cameron was the first to test Greg Hall, cutting in from the right and hitting a dipping shot that Hall couldn’t quite hold on to but his defence were there to help out. On the counter, Heath crossed low and it came all the way to Matty Devine but again a Redditch body was there to block.
Thomas Hillman then forced a good save from Hall, aiming to catch him out at the near post but he got across well to parry away.
The Dabbers started the second half with much more clarity and quality, and this paid off just four minutes in. Saunders had given Redditch a warning on their high line and caught them out again, breaking the offside trap to run in behind and slot comfortably past Kieran Boucher to open the scoring for his first goal since the FA Cup tie at Tividale in September.
Redditch’s equaliser came just four minutes later. The Dabbers won a free kick on the left edge of the box, Walsh tried to catch out the Redditch defence by taking it quickly but none of the attackers were ready and Boucher claimed easily. He then launched it forward and it made its way to Hillman, who once again aimed for the near post but this time found the net.
The goal-fest continued only three minutes after that with undoubtedly the goal of the game. A Dabbers attack looked to be breaking down before the ball was knocked back for Prince Haywood to blast in a beauty from about 25 yards out into the top left corner, reminiscent of his goal against Basford last season.
Nantwich looked to try and press home their advantage after this, a quick exchange between Heath and Saunders saw Saunders hit straight at Boucher, then a lovely team move was almost finished off by Caspar Hughes who curled over the bar.
Things then settled down as Redditch tried to pull level once more, substitute Jordan Clement testing Hall inside the last ten minutes.
Clement again came close not long after, flashing a snapshot wide of the right hand post.
Three minutes from time, the Dabbers got their third. Well worked again, as Devine played a long ball down the left channel for sub Scott McGowan, he picked out Saunders who thundered in a side foot half volley and celebrated in front of the travelling supporters.
It looked like that was tie over, but Redditch rallied again and it was Hillman again who found the net, and in similar fashion to his first, cutting in from the left and hitting hard and low past Hall, well-placed into the bottom corner.
Redditch desperately searched for a leveller in added time, Stair with a brilliant defensive header to stop Tiago Nassuncio having a free hit at goal, then Daniel Mullarkey skewing wide as Nantwich held on.
The draw for the 1st Round of the FA Trophy will be released on Monday at 1pm.
Redditch United: Boucher, Mullarkey, Horton, Bosio (Dunbar, 56), Davies, Richards, Nasuncio, Day, Cameron (Hadley, 71), Copp (Clement, 64), Hillman
Subs not used: Charlton, Buchanan
Goals: Hillman, 53, 90
Nantwich Town: Hall, Koral, Devine, Stair, Langley, Harrison, Haywood, Hughes, Heath (McGowan, 69), Cooke (Walsh, 15 (Webb, 53)), Saunders
Subs not used: Lawrie, Mwasile, Pope, Hawkins
Goals: Saunders, 49, 87, Haywood, 56