By Carl Thorpe:

Nantwich Town solidified their position in the BetVictor Northern Premier League play-off spots with a stunning 4-1 victory away at league leaders South Shields. 

Goals from Caspar Hughes, Sean Cooke, Ricardo Fuller and Luke Walsh secured all three points in front off a large crowd at Mariners Park. 

The match got off to a slow start with South Shields having most of the possession in the opening ten minutes, but with very little created in chances by either team. 

On the twelfth minute South Shields created a good opportunity for an attack with Dillon Morse putting a ball over the top through to Lee Mason, however his poor touch allowed the ball to roll through to Greg Hall. 

A minute later South Shields created another chance when some neat play on the righthand side led to Jordan Hunter putting a cross in the box, however Mason couldn’t get on the end of it. 

In the fourteenth minute Nantwich forced a corner when Jimmy Lawrie played it down the right channel for David Webb, who put a low cross for the Stoke City-loanee Ethon Varian, but it was well-blocked behind by Morse, before Varian could get onto it. 

There was a shout for a Nantwich penalty a minute later.  Cooke played the ball to Varian who knocked it out wide to Webb, who then played the ball into Cooke in the box who was then barged into by Nathan Lowe, however Samuel Ross waved play on, Lawrie was able to latch on the loose ball with a shot but it was blocked and the danger cleared. 

South Shields had another chance in the nineteenth minute. Hunter, looking to play a ball in the box, had it blocked, it fell nicely for new signing Darius Osei who then played to Lowe who played Craig Baxter in the left-hand side of the box, however this weak shot was comfortably saved by Hall. 

Josh Langley had the Dabbers’ first real shot of the game after a short corner between Cooke and Lawrie found the centre-half on the edge of the box whose powerful shot went over the bar for a goal kick. 

Nantwich got their first shot on target on the twenty-eighth minute. The Dabbers had a free kick after a lunging tackle from Hunter on Prince Haywood. Cooke crossed the ball in from wide right and it was met by Mwasile in the box however it didn’t have enough power to trouble ex-Dabber Myles Boney in goal. 

South Shields had a free kick out wide right of their own after Joel Stair was adjudged to have fouled Osei. Lowe fired the ball towards the back post, but the ball went wide without troubling Hall. 

The Mariners had another chance when they had a throw in down the Nantwich right. The ball was received eventually by Osei who then played in Lowe, his side pass to Briggs was then shot wide from outside the box. 

Nantwich then took the lead in the thirty-seventh minute with a strong contender for goal of the season. The Dabbers produced a fantastic counter-attack after some accomplished defending with the ball finding Mwasile down the left. Mwasile then played the ball back to the waiting Hughes, who then unleashed a 30yard rocket into the top right hand corner of Boney’s goal. 

Shields tried to find an immediate equaliser and had a series of corners. For the first corner, Osei’s header was deflected over. Robert Briggs then had his flicked header cleared behind by the head of Cooke. However, the Dabbers would clear the danger comfortably on the third successive corner. 

The Dabbers had another claim for a penalty in the last minute of the first half. A Devine throw in ended up with Cooke on the ball his clever ball played in Varian who appeared to nick the ball ahead of the on rushing Boney who clattered into Varian however the referee again decided there was no penalty. With that the Dabbers took a one goal lead into the break. 

South Shields thought they had an equaliser early in the second half. Matty Devine failed to clear the ball with Nantwich deep towards the box the ball found Morse. His pass found Briggs who looped a ball in the box for Jason Gilchrist who flicked it to Osei to head home. However, the assistant referee raised his flag when Gilchrist received the ball with a very close call. 

South Shields immediately made the first substitute of the game with Sefton Gonzales replacing Lee Mason. 

Nantwich had their first chance off the half in the 54th minute when Cooke worked hard to dispossess Ross in the middle of the pitch his driving run ended with a curling effort that went wide of the goal. 

Nantwich made their first substitution of the afternoon when Joe Malkin replaced Ethon Varian. South Shields then made their second with Arron Thompson replacing Callum Ross. 

South Shields had a great chance to equalise on the sixty-ninth minute when Baxter’s low cross found Osei on the edge of the box; his powerful shot was goal-bound but deflected off Joel Stair’s superb block and out for a corner. Gilchrist then headed over the bar from the resulting corner. 

The Mariners then made their final substitution of the afternoon when Gary Brown replaced Darius Osei. 

South Shields didn’t have to wait too much longer for the equaliser, and it came in the seventy-second minute. A high cross from Brown was aimed at Sefton Gonzales in the box. Greg Hall tried to catch the cross but couldn’t get control. Joel Stair tried to clear with a header, but it went towards Lawrie and Gilchrist when they both tried to head the ball it ended up in the back of the net. 

Nantwich reacted immediately Lawrie put in a high cross towards Webb, the ball came back out for Hughes on the edge of the box looking for his second goal of the game his powerful strike hit Wouter Verstraaten on the head for a corner. 

South Shields buoyed by their goal came forward again, after an attack from Mwasile broke down. Hunter’s countered and after playing a one-two had a shot that went over the goal. 

Shields almost took the lead a ball from Baxter was hit towards Gonzales, Langley came to clear the danger but his smashed clearance went high up in the air with the wind catching it, Hall couldn’t catch it and Dillon Morse managed to get a head towards goal, however Langley was on hand to clear it off the line. 

The Dabbers then re-took the lead in the eightieth minute. Nantwich worked the ball well in their own half when Devine delivered a ball forward into Webb, who then played the ball into Haywood on the right-hand side who played a lovely ball in behind for Webb to receive. Webb with some fantastic awareness was able to cut the ball back to the waiting Cooke, whose shot deflected off Briggs and past Boney into the corner of the net. 

With Nantwich back in front Dave Cooke made a double substitution with Sean Cooke and Joe Mwasile being replaced by Luke Walsh and Ricardo Fuller. 

South Shields were looking to get back in the game and Gonzales was next to have a chance from a corner as he latched onto a loose ball in the box his turn and shot however was deflected behind for another corner. 

South Shields kept up the pressure when Lowe had a shot on the edge of the box which was blocked by Haywood, it almost founds it way through to Morse, but Stair was on hand with a last ditch tackle to deny him. However, Nantwich had not fully cleared, and Hunter then put the ball back in the box towards Morse but once again he couldn’t capitalise on the chance. 

In the eightieth minute Hunter had another chance after a ball was headed out the Nantwich box, he had a shot outside the box that took a deflection over Greg Hall’s goal. 

With four minutes to be added on the Dabbers then scored the critical third goal. A long ball down the right hand side from Haywood towards Fuller landed with Verstraaten, who never really got control of the ball when the tried to pass the ball he passed it straight to Fuller who pounced and he coolly slotted the ball past Boney to send the Dabbers faithful wild behind the goal. 

The Dabbers were not finished with the scoring a minute later they scored the fourth and final goal. A poor throw in was cut out quickly by Malkin whose ball came to Fuller, Fuller turned provider with a lovely through ball to Walsh, with the ball bouncing he spotted Boney off his line and he calmly lofted the ball over him into the net. 

This was the last action of the game as the referee blew for full time at the kick off, the Dabbers have now made it four wins from four and the attention now moves towards another huge match at home against high flying Basford United next Saturday at The Weaver Stadium.

South Shields: Myles Boney, Jordan Hunter, Craig Baxter, Callum Ross (Arron Thompson, 62), Dillon Morse, Wouter Verstraaten, Nathan Lowe, Robert Briggs ©, Jason Gilchrist, Darius Osei (Gary Brown, 70), Lee Mason (Sefton Gonzales, 54) 

Subs not used: Kieran Charlton, Ryan Whitley 

Goals: Jason Gilchrist (72′) 

Bookings: Nathan Lowe 

Nantwich Town: Greg Hall, Prince Haywood, Matty Devine, Joel Stair, Josh Langley, Caspar Hughes ©, Jimmy Lawrie, David Webb, Ethon Varian (Joe Malkin, 72), Sean Cooke (Luke Walsh, 82), Joe Mwasile (Ricardo Fuller, 82) 

Subs not used: Troy Bourne, Ben Harrison 

Goals: Caspar Hughes (37), Sean Cooke (80), Ricardo Fuller (90), Luke Walsh (90) 

Bookings: Sean Cooke