Doubles from Joe Malkin and Callum Saunders saw Nantwich Town secure passage to the Second Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup in an exciting tie at Tividale FC.
Saunders and Malkin both netted in both halfs to give the Dabbers a 4-0 lead before a late Tividale fightback gave the home supporters brief hope of an unlikely comeback.
It was the perfect start from Dave Cooke’s side, on three minutes Callum Saunders was brought down in the Tividale area for an early penalty. Saunders got up to take it himself and dispatched it straight down the middle.
Tividale keeper Adam Harrison was forced into action soon after, first denying a James Lawrie drive, then keeping out Saunders again on the rebound.
The link-up play between Saunders and Malkin was strong throughout, it looked like they’d been watching Son and Harry Kane’s game from the weekend at times. This was in evidence for the second goal, Saunders wriggling past a couple of defenders before standing up a cross for Malkin to head in from point blank range.
Tividale rarely threatened in the first half, a ball in that just evaded their number 9 Dan Smith and an overhit free kick from left-back Brad Welding were the sum of their efforts.
It perhaps should have been a wider margin by half-time, a couple of sighters from Sean Cooke worried the Tividale defence, then Saunders found himself through on goal, he did the hard part of going round the keeper only to see his shot cleared off the line.
The Saunders/Malkin axis linked up again just before the break, Saunders nodding down for Malkin after a defensive mix-up, he just got under his effort which flew over to leave it a two-goal margin.
Saunders scored after four minutes in the first half, then Malkin did the same in the second. This was the best goal of the evening, kicked off by a brilliant run down the right side by Mike Koral, who couldn’t be stopped before his deep cross was tapped back by Saunders for Malkin to get his second and the Dabbers’ third.
Malkin almost got his hat-trick shortly after, but Harrison did well to turn his shot round the post.
Saunders did make it four just after the hour. Cooke curled in an outswinging corner and Saunders powered in a header to make it just that bit more comfortable.
Just three minutes later, Tividale got onto the scoresheet, Elliot Hartley flicking in a header from a corner.
Prince Haywood hit a shot into a crowd of bodies from a low corner to try and restore the four-goal margin, then James Lawrie sliced over with the last ten minutes approaching
To the home team’s credit, they kept fighting right to the end, and they got further reward on 80 minutes. Another corner, and another headed goal, this time from Curtis Cocking. As the home side ran the ball back to halfway, they suddenly had a faint hope of a comeback.
Joe Mwasile should have made it five, played clean through after starting his run in his own half with Tividale throwing players forward, he lifted his effort over Harrison’s crossbar.
Colum Nugent had the home side’s last half-chance, blasting over late on. In all, a solid victory that secures Nantwich’s place in the Second Qualifying Round for the sixth straight season. The draw for the next round is set to be revealed this Friday (the 25th) at 1pm.
Tividale: Harrison (GK), Hurdman, Burroughs (McPike, 60), Nugent, Hunt (C) (Antonio, 74), Hartley, Wilkinson, Smith, Carter (Bailey, 54), Cocking
Subs: Rawlins, Hawk, Grosvenor, Rowley
Goals: Hartley, 67; Cocking, 80
Nantwich Town: Hall (GK), Koral, Devine, Stair (C), Bourne, Harrison, Lawrie, Haywood, Malkin (Heath, 64), Cooke (Walsh, 75), Saunders (Mwasile, 64)
Subs: Webb, Hawkins, McDonald, Parker
Goals: Saunders, 4 (Pen), 64; Malkin, 20, 49