Steve Phillips, former Crewe Alex and new Nantwich Town keeper

Nantwich Town were beaten 3-2 away at Stafford Rangers in their latest pre-season test, writes Richard Scott.

The Dabbers were beaten by a strike nine minutes from time in the five-goal thriller at Marston Road.

Nantwich scored through Jordan Johnson and Vinnie Mukendi, but James Dance, Ryan Wynter and Chris Smith responded for the hosts.

In the absence of Danny Johnson, assistant manager Phil Eastwood and goalkeeper coach Dave Haworth took control of Nantwich, who gave starts to Cohan Bramall and Louis Callaghan. Steve Jones and Max Harrop were second half substitutes.

The hosts could have had a penalty on four minutes when it appeared one of the Dabbers defenders hand-balled inside the area.

But the ref only gave a corner which was cleared away.

The Dabbers first chance of the match fell on 10 minutes when Andy White broke forward and tried his luck from outside the area but his shot was well saved by Adam Whitehouse.

Just three minutes later and the deadlock was broken, when a through ball from Sam Wilson split the Stafford defence.

It found Jordan Johnson who went one on one with Whitehouse and found the back of the net with a calm finish.

On 25 minutes, referee Greg Rollason called the game to a halt for a quick drinks break to keep the players cool in sweltering conditions.

The hosts were level on 30 minutes when a slip from Wilson allowed Stafford in and the ball landed to James Dance who nipped in past Callaghan and Jones before lashing his shot past Smith.

The hosts went ahead when Ryan Wynter was put through and beat Mat Bailey before slotting into the far corner of Smith’s goal just a minute before half-time.

Nantwich made a number of changes at the break and sub Moussa Bakhti made a great start to the second half with a long probing run into the Stafford half but after some good control he was unable to find an end product.

56 minutes the Dabbers made it 2-2 when a short corner was played to Adam Pepper.

His cross found sub Vinnie Mukendi, who headed in to draw the visitors level.

Mukendi could have had a second after he wrestled the ball off Oliver Davies before trying his luck, but his shot was unable to beat Whitehouse.

With 15 minutes to go Stafford could have taken the lead but Moussa Bakhti, who had an excellent half at left back, was on had to intercept the ball to keep Rangers at bay.

However, the hosts had the final say with nine minutes to go.

A nice attack found Chris Smith who hit an unstoppable shot past Steve Phillips in the Dabbers goal.

Smith could have added another in the final seconds, but his shot blazed over the bar.

Nantwich are next in action on Tuesday July 29 when Conference Premier side AFC Telford United visit the Weaver Stadium, kick off 7.45pm.

Nantwich Town: Smith, Wilson, White, Callaghan, A.Jones, Bailey, Clayton, Pepper, Johnson, Winslade and Bramall. Subs: Green (on for Bailey), Phillips (on for Smith), Bakhti (on for Jones), S.Jones (on for Winslade), Mukendi (on for Johnson), Long (on for White) and Harrop (on for Pepper)

(pic by Simon J Newbury Photography)

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