Manager Dave Cooke eyes the Crewe Alex opposition

Nantwich Town bowed out of the FA Cup after a late goal saw them beaten 1-0 at Blyth Spartans in the Second Qualifying Round replay at Croft Park, writes Steve Sharman.

Spartans’ substitute Dan Maguire popped up nine minutes from time to stab the ball home from close range following a fine run and cross from Jamie Holmes.

The Dabbers had their own chances and can count themselves unlucky, hitting the post twice through Louis Barnes and Danny Glover.

Manager Dave Cooke (pictured) was without Steve Jones and Nathan Cotterell due to work commitments, and Matt Bell who was still nursing a knock picked up at the weekend.

Sean Cooke and Joe Mwasile stepped in, and the latter caused Spartans problems early on with his pace and skill.

Nantwich started the brighter and perhaps should have had an early goal as Callum Saunders stooped low to head a fine Barnes cross over the crossbar.

Saunders was involved again five minutes later as his curling effort was blocked after Mwasile had found his team mate just inside the box.

At the other end, Toby Mullarkey produced a fine clearing header inside his own six-yard box after Adam Wrightson had curled a dangerous ball in.

A minute later and Mullarkey’s defensive partner Joel Stair needed to make a stunning goal line clearance to deny Holmes who had weaved his way into the box, before firing on goal.

The Dabbers were inches from opening the scoring as a fine lofted ball from Aaron Knight found Barnes down the left, and the former Colwyn Bay man saw his effort bounce off the base of the post.

The home support was becoming restless as their side were unable to create any clear opportunities as the Dabbers themselves looked for an opening goal with Saunders inches away from converting Barnes’ curling cross.

Blyth continued to look towards Holmes on the left hand side with the tricky winger cutting in and firing over on two occasions in the final five minutes of the first period.

Dabbers’ stopper Fabian Spiess was then called into action moments before the whistle as he blocked Bradley Fewster’s effort with his legs after the forward had found space inside the box.

The hosts made an immediate change after the break as Robbie Dale was introduced and the forward was denied twice by Joel Stair in the box, as the Dabbers’ defender was in the right place to make two crucial tackles.

Despite a strong start to the second period from Blyth, the Dabbers continued to push for a goal and Mwasile was close to converting Barnes’ cross, but home keeper Peter Jameson did well to palm the ball away.

Spiess then needed to be alert as he denied Fewster again with his legs, before Barnes deflected a goal bound effort from Wrightson over the bar.

From the resulting corner, the Dabbers caught Blyth on the break and Saunders saw his shot palmed away by Jameson in the Spartans goal.

With the game entering the final 15 minutes, the Dabbers hit the woodwork for the second time as Glover’s fine effort struck the far post, after the forward had been played in by Cooke.

That miss proved crucial as four minutes later Blyth opened the scoring as Maguire prodded Holmes’ low cross in from six yards.

With time running out and the game entering the final moments, substitute Joe Malkin had one more chance or the Dabbers, but the forward volleyed over the bar from close range.

Next up for the Dabbers is a long trip to Scarborough Athletic on Saturday in the league with a 3pm kick off.

Nantwich Town: Spiess, Bourne, Barnes, Stair, Mullarkey, Hughes (c), Mwasile (Morgan 83′), Lawrie, Saunders (Malkin 78′), Knight (Glover 66′). Subs not used: McDonald, Hawkins (GK), Croft

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