By Ashley Houghton
Nantwich Town boss Jimmy Quinn described Sean Cooke’s wonder strike as “special” in the 1-1 draw at local rivals Stafford Rangers.

The ex-Crewe Alex winger netted the equaliser in the final minute as both sides were reduced to ten men in a feisty affair at Marston Road.

Darren Moss was dismissed for two bookable offences for the Dabbers and ex-Nantwich midfielder Peter Heler received a straight red card in the first half for the hosts.

Dabbers boss, Quinn, made three changes from Saturday’s draw with Frickley Athletic, Moss replaced the injured Mat Bailey, Cooke was preferred to Michael Lennon and Dabbers captain Chris Flynn made his first start in over a month returning from a hamstring injury to replace Zak Foster.

Nantwich found it hard to play the fluid football, which has been so effective for them in recent weeks, in the early stages as the heavy rain made it difficult to pass the ball frequently.

Matt Lowe was the first player to have an effort on target when his deep cross forced Rangers keeper Adam Alcock to tip over the crossbar.

Stafford were reduced to ten men on 25 minutes as Heler was dismissed for a two-footed lunge on Caspar Hughes, but Quinn felt the sending off was cruel on the former Dabber.

He said: “It was very harsh on the lad, he’s shown commitment and you can’t fault him for that.

“I’d have been very disappointed if it was one of our lads but the rules state you’ve got to stay on your feet so by going to ground you always run the risk of getting sent off.”

Nantwich had the better of the chances throughout the first half as Hughes’ 25-yard strike forced a fine save from Alcock, Si Everall also went close when he charged down Alcock’s clearance but Paul Donnelly spared his keeper’s blushes with a goal line clearance.

Despite the number of chances Nantwich created Quinn was disappointed with the quality his side failed to show in the final third.

“To win games you have to show quality in the opposition penalty area and we’re failing to do that.

“It’s a shame as I felt we passed the ball really well, we’ll continue to work on the finishing though and it will come eventually.”

Everall went close again not long after half-time but his flick from Andy White’s cross was once again thwarted by keeper Alcock.

The Dabbers lost their one-man advantage on the hour mark as Moss was given a second booking for an innocuous challenge on Stafford forward Chris Morris.

However, his first booking for a challenge on the same player frustrated his manager after the players had been warned not to make rash challenges on the greasy surface.

“I was disappointed as I said to the lads because of the rain you need to stay on your feet and the first time Mossy (Darren) goes to ground he gets a booking.

“The second one was harsh and I think the referee was trying to even it up a little bit.”

Moss’ sending off provided a catalyst for Stafford to play with more freedom and Morris forced a save from Brain before ex-Nantwich manager Kevin Street headed wide as the hosts looked to break the deadlock.

Nantwich continued to push for a goal themselves though and when White fed through substitute Lennon it looked like they may take the lead but the Dabbers leading marksman flashed wide.

Rangers took the lead in the 86th minute as Michael Carr played in another former Nantwich player Alan Nagington, to smash a left-footed shot past Brain and give Rangers what they thought was the winner.

Cooke obviously hadn’t read the script though and minutes later he smashed a roaring right-footed strike into the top right hand corner leaving Alcock with no chance, sending the Dabbers away following into raptures.

“He’s come across the ball and hit it brilliantly,” Quinn added.

“It’s got us out of trouble as we didn’t show enough quality around their penalty box before that, it’s a great hit and I’m sure he’ll remember it for a long time.”

Quinn said Mat Bailey’s injury will rule the ex-Crewe Alex defender out of Saturday’s game against Chorley at the Weaver Stadium and perhaps the remaining two league games, but hopes Bailey will be fit for their Cheshire Senior Cup final against Stalybridge Celtic on April 24.

Nantwich: Brain,Lowe, White, Hughes (Maguire, 65), Moss, McDonald, Urwin (Lennon, 57),MacPherson, Everall (Lane, 85), Cooke, Flynn ©. Subs: Foster, Jack.

All pictures courtesy of Simon J Newbury Photography

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website, to learn more please read our privacy policy.


Captcha * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.