defeat at Witton - Sean Cooke eyes the ball - pic by Jonathan White

Two goals from Rob Hopley condemned Nantwich Town to a 4-1 defeat to Cheshire rivals Witton Albion despite Sean Cooke netting his tenth league goal of the season, writes Ryan Batty.

Cooke (pictured) had pulled a goal back for the Dabbers in the 70th minute with a fine free kick after Hopley and James Foley had given the hosts a two-goal lead at the break.

But the Witton front man scored again with Steven Tames wrapping up the points late on to make it a day to forget for the Dabbers.

Fabian Spiess returned between the sticks for Dave Cooke’s men, following the injury sustained earlier in the month.

And Matt Bell returned to the first team in place of Jamie Morgan, who joined keeper Myles Boney on the bench.

Witton scored just three minutes in when Matty Devine got behind the defence and his cross fell to Hopley, who steered the ball past Spiess.

Nantwich’s first chance came from Cooke who received the ball 25 yards from goal, but Witton keeper Calvin Hare watched it whistle past the post.

The Dabbers almost equalised after a quarter of an hour as Toby Mullarkey lofted the ball towards Troy Bourne.

The full-back knocked it back for Joe Mwasile to cross to Bell, whose scissor-kick narrowly evaded the top of Hare’s goal.

The hosts were very close to doubling their lead after 20 minutes, as another cross into the box found Hopley, but the forward connected weakly.

However, the hosts doubled their lead soon after as they earned a free-kick 30 yards from goal on the left-hand side.

Foley curled a beauty into the top-left corner. Speiss managed to get a hand to it, but the power beat him.

Dave Cooke adjusted the line-up at the interval, and Jamie Morgan replaced Toby Mullarkey.

After a quiet start to the second half, a cynical foul from River Humphreys gave the Dabbers a free-kick on 69 minutes.

Cooke stepped up and curled the set-piece into the top-left, leaving Hare with no chance.

However, Nantwich’s hopes of a comeback were snuffed out five minutes later.

Tames capitalised on an error in defence and squared to Hopley who was able to place the ball past Spiess to make it 3-1.

Cooke introduced Danny Griggs to replace Nathan Cotterell, while the hosts replaced Will Jones with Crewe-loanee Owen Dale.

Witton extended their lead with 12 minutes to go, as a flick on from Hopley gave Tames the chance to take the ball round Spiess, and knock it into an empty net.

Nantwich are back in action next weekend when they travel to Coalville, before returning to the Weaver Stadium a week on Tuesday to face Crewe Alexandra in Cheshire Senior Cup action.

Nantwich: Spiess, Bourne, Wildin, Stair, Mullarkey (Morgan 45′), Bell, Mwasile (Forbes 78′), Hughes (C), Clayton, Cooke, Cotterell (Griggs 76′). Subs not used: Phillips, Boney.

(pic courtesy of Jonathan White)

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