First-half - first Nantwich Town goal - Callum Saunders slides the ball into the bottom corner (1)

An inspired goalkeeping display from Fabian Spiess and two goals from Callum Saunders saw Nantwich Town progress in the Cheshire Senior Cup after an excellent 2-1 win over Crewe Alexandra, writes Steve Sharman.

Saunders netted twice in ten first half minutes to put his side in control.

And despite the Alex pulling one back via the head of Owen Dale, superb keeping from Spiess ensured the Dabbers began their defence of the trophy with victory.

Nantwich came into the game on the back of a goalless draw away at Gainsborough Trinity and boss Dave Cooke made a number of changes.

Spiess replaced the ineligible Will Jaaskelainen and Callum Saunders, Danny Glover and Luke Walsh came in for Joe Malkin, James Lawrie and Joe Mwasile.

It was the hosts who enjoyed plenty of possession in the early stages of the game but were unable to create any clear chances.

The Dabbers took the lead with their first effort on goal as some nice football involving Glover, Walsh and Saunders saw the latter fire past Dave Richards to give his side the lead.

Crewe responded immediately and Spiess made his first save of the night as he superbly palmed away Alex Nicholls’ header from Oliver Finney’s right wing corner as they looked to put pressure on the Dabbers from set pieces.

Second-half - Danny Glover puts pressure on Crewe Alex player (1)

From one of those set pieces the second goal came from the away side as they broke away via a superb throw from Spiess to Caspar Hughes.

He fed Saunders on the right side of the box and the former Crewe forward curled into the far corner much to the delight of the visiting fans.

The Alex continued to have most of the ball but struggled to create clear cut chances.

Spiess denied Nicholls again as he blocked well with his feet after the Crewe winger was played in on goal by Finney.

Finney then saw his curling free kick go over the bar before Spiess denied Nicholls for the third time palming away a powerful effort after he had been played in by Tommy Lowery who had nicked the ball off the Dabbers defence in a dangerous area.

Crewe started the second period as they had ended the first and continued to look for a way back into the game although Lowery came closest as his curling effort from the left hand side was not enough to trouble Spiess.

First-half - first Nantwich Town goal - Callum Saunders celebrates his goal (1)

The Dabbers’ German keeper was then called into action again shortly after as he brilliantly palmed away Rio Adebisi’s header.

But moments later Spiess was beaten as Dale headed in Lowery’s curling left wing cross into the far corner.

It was the turn of Crewe substitute Malachi Linton to be denied by Spiess as the winger looked set to head in the equaliser, but again the Dabbers stopper was on hand to make a fine close range block, before the Crewe man blazed over the bar when well placed inside the box.

Despite the pressure from their opponents, the Dabbers did look for a third as Saunders saw his looping header saved by Richards before the striker’s effort inside the box was blocked by Michael Raynes following some excellent play from Sean Cooke and Hughes.

Second-half - Crewe Alex goal from No.11 Owen Dale (1)

As the game entered the final ten minutes the Dabbers defence continued to stand firm although Spiess made a stunning double save to keep his side ahead, palming away Regan Griffiths long range effort before somehow tipping Finney’s subsequent effort over the bar when it looked certain the Crewe man would score.

They turned out to be the final chances of the game as Nantwich saw out two minutes of stoppage time to make it two wins over the Alex in successive seasons and progress into the Second Round of the competition.

Crewe Alexandra: Richards (c), Johnson (Griffiths 69′), Adebisi, Lynch, Raynes, Offord, Nicholls (Linton 46′), Lowery, Miller, Finney, Dale. Subs not used: Booth (GK), Fenton.

Nantwich Town: Spiess, Morgan, Bourne, Stair, Mullarkey, Hughes (c), Saunders, Bell, Glover (Malkin 77′), Cooke, Walsh (Mwasile 80′). Subs not used: Phillips, Hawkins (GK), Jones.

(pics by Jonathan White)

First-half - Callum Saunders eyes the ball (1)

First-half - second Nantwich Town goal - Callum Saunders shoots to the far corner past keeper Dave Richards (2) (1)

Full-time - Captain Caspar Hughes celebrates victory (1)

Dabbers fans support their team (1)

Second-half - Nantwich Town Manager eyes the action (1)

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