goal at Barwell inside 39 seconds - Harry Clayton

A goal straight from the first whistle from Harry Clayton set the tone for Nantwich Town as they recorded an excellent start to 2018 with a 2-0 victory at Barwell, writes Ryan Batty.

Clayton (pictured) gave Nantwich the lead after just 39 seconds, and they were able to double their lead with 20 minutes to go as Sean Cooke rounded the keeper and slotted into an empty net.

The Dabbers made two changes from the Micklover defeat, as David Forbes and Joe Mwasile were replaced by Jamie Morgan and Clayton, who returned to the side after a suspension.

And Dave Cooke’s men got off to dream start.

A mistake by Barwell keeper Turner allowed Clayton to dink it over the stopper and take the lead inside the first minute.

Soon after Turner almost made another mistake when Clayton rushed the keeper and blocked his kick – the ball falling straight to Cooke.

However, the midfielder was put under pressure and his header was collected by the keeper.

The first real chance for Barwell came on 20 minutes as Heath made a good run into the Nantwich half, but his shot rolled wide of Fabian Spiess’ far post.

Two minutes later, Courtney Wildin drove forward before launching a shot towards goal, which Turner juggled before collecting.

A minute after, Clayton crossed for Cooke, who was brought down as he took the shot and it came back off the post.

Ten minutes before the break, the hosts had a free-kick on the left. Spiess leapt to punch away with both hands, but brought down Sam Hall and Stenson in the process.

Hall was fine to continue, but Stenson went over to the sidelines to receive further treatment, and was replaced on the edge of the break by Mitchell Piggon.

The hosts made another change at the break as Liam Kay replaced Owen Story.

Barwell started the second half with an added spring and looked unrecognisable from the first half.

But the Dabbers’ backline was able to defend well against any attacks.

Towers found a gap in the Nantwich defence and advanced towards goal, but Spiess expertly rushed out to clear the danger.

Spiess began a quick Nantwich break and they were in the opposite box just a minute later.

Clayton received the ball on the left and tried a side-footed shot, but his effort narrowly scraped the post.

Ten minutes later, Nantwich required some sharp defending as Brady Hickey was played in one-on-one.

But he took one touch too many and it allowed Joel Stair to step in and block the shot, eventually clearing away.

Soon after, Nantwich extended the lead and clinched the points.

FA Cup winner - Sean Cooke eyes the ball - pic by Jonathan White

Sean Cooke

In the 70th minute, hesitancy in the Barwell defence allowed Cooke to sneak through and he expertly rounded the keeper to tap it into an empty net.

A minute later, Barwell went up the other end and a cross found Piggon at the far post, but Spiess pulled off a superb save to prevent a swift reply.

With 15 minutes left, Nantwich almost scored a third.

Wildin found Hall at the back post who put a neat low cross into the six-yard box that Clayton almost turned in.

The final real chance of the game fell to Whitmore, who fired a powerful shot from 25 yards that troubled Spiess, but he was able to recover and save.

The Dabbers return to action on Saturday (January 6), hosting Hednesford Town before starting their Cheshire Senior Cup campaign a week on Wednesday with the short trip to face Sandbach United.

Nantwich Town: Spiess, Morgan, Wildin, Stair, Bourne, Hall (C), Hughes, Bell, Clayton, Cooke, Cole. Subs not used: Phillips, Burzynski, Strong, Griggs, Jones

(pics courtesy of Jonathan White)

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