Joe Malkin winner against Matlock - scored two goals (1)

Nantwich Town continued a perfect start to a busy festive period with a 3-2 victory over tough opposition in Basford United, writes James Brown.

It means Nantwich remain six points clear at the top of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division table.

It was a less than ideal start for the Dabbers when the visitors took an early second minute lead.

A Joel Stair clearance fell for Matt Thornhill who fired past Will Jaaskelainen off the underside of the bar.

The Nantwich response was fast and eight minutes after falling behind, they were level when Sean Cooke’s dinked ball found Joe Malkin (pictured).

He chested it down and fired a well struck volley under Basford keeper Kieran Preston.

It filled the Dabbers players’ with confidence as they took control of the first half and went in front after 22 minutes.

Joe Mwasile’s strike was parried by Preston into the path of Jamie Morgan who from a tight angle, turned the rebound home.

Nantwich continued put pressure on Basford with several balls into the box dealt with, in particular by the impressive keeper Preston.

Matt Bell earned a caution after a fifty-fifty challenge which would prove to be a talking point later on in the game.

Basford striker Courey Grantham blasted over from inside the box, at the other end Preston produced a miraculous save when Malkin unlocked Cooke whose powerfully hit strike was tipped over the bar.

A major talking point came three minutes into the second half when Basford defender Stefan Galinski appeared to kick Malkin while the striker was on the floor but escaped without even a warning.

The second half was a slow burner with Louis Barnes’ drilled cross across the face of goal the closest to testing Preston before the hour mark.

Jaaskelainen was called into action with 25 minutes remaining, stopping Grantham racing through one-on-one into the Nantwich box.

That save proved vital as ten minutes later it was 3-1 when substitute Callum Saunders let fly from distance.

It struck the bar but only as far as Malkin who was on hand to fire home the rebound.

An attendance of 488 almost saw a fourth Dabbers goal on 81 minutes when a corner was whipped into the box however Toby Mullarkey’s header was just over.

Basford made it a nervy finish after throwing men forward and pulling a goal back with six minutes to go.

Substitute Zak Goodson found the net out of nowhere, dinking a Greg Tempest ball over Jaaskelainen.

At the beginning of four added minutes, Bell was shown a second yellow after preventing Basford from countering.

The Dabbers had to play stoppage time with ten men but held on relatively comfortably to see out an important victory.

The top of the table Dabbers will look to continue their fine run of form on Boxing Day with a short trip to face Stafford Rangers (3pm kick-off).

Nantwich Town: Will Jaaskelainen, Jamie Morgan, Louis Barnes, Joel Stair, Toby Mullarkey, Matt Bell (Red Card 90′), Joe Mwasile, Caspar Hughes (c) (Callum Saunders 46’), Joe Malkin, Sean Cooke (Troy Bourne 64’), James Lawrie. Subs not used: Nathan Cotterell, Danny Glover, Steve Jones.

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