Second-half - a spectacular bicycle kick from Joe Malkin is saved by Scarborough keeper Tommy Taylor (1)

Matt Bell’s superbly executed free-kick inside the final minutes earned Nantwich Town a 1-1 draw against promotion rivals Scarborough Athletic, writes James Brown.

The Dabbers were behind after just four minutes when Luke Lofts wrong footed goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen and find the bottom left corner.

Nantwich took time to settle but began to spend some time in possession with Joe Malkin almost being played in on goal if it wasn’t for the speed of Scarborough keeper Tommy Taylor coming off his line.

In the 25th minute, the crowd of 726 impeccably observed a minute’s applause in memory of former Dabber Ryan Keen, who was tragically killed 25 years ago this month.

Nantwich had their first goalscoring opportunity on the half hour mark when Sean Cooke found space 30-yards out and unleashed a well hit effort but it drifted wide of the right hand post.

Joe Mwasile was causing Scarborough problems on the right, twisting and turning his way past a couple of defenders but lacked the cutting edge in front of goal as the visitors weren’t tested enough in the first half.

The final chance of the half fell to Toby Mullarkey who was teed up by James Lawrie but fired wide of the mark.

The second half saw a completely different Nantwich side come out of the tunnel, with the introduction of both Danny Glover and Nathan Cotterell alongside a change in formation turning the game on it’s head.

Second-half - Danny Glover prepares to cross the ball (1)

The Dabbers were straight on to the front foot seconds after the restart when Jamie Morgan drilled a shot wide.

Cotterell immediately made a big impact, leaving Scarborough right back Joshua Lacey for dust on numerous occasions on the left-hand side.

His cross found Malkin who set Cooke but he got his shot all wrong.

Malkin was within inches of bringing Nantwich back level on 55 minutes in spectacular fashion when Cotterell’s cross fell perfectly for an audacious bicycle kick which Taylor saved well.

The Scarborough keeper was keeping his side ahead when Cooke evaded a sliding tackle before lofting a ball in towards Malkin who directed his header towards goal but couldn’t pick out a corner as Taylor didn’t really have to move.

A great opportunity for the visitors to wrap up the points fell to captain Michael Coulson on 73 minutes when he escaped the challenge of Mullarkey but failed to find the run of James Walshaw who was in acres of space.

With two minutes plus added time to go it would take something special for the Dabbers to secure a point, and it was provided by Matt Bell in some style.

Second-half - Nantwich Town goal - Matt Bell prepares for his free-kick (1)

Second-half - Nantwich Town goal from Matt Bell - Scarborough keeper Tommy Taylor cant reach the ball (1)

After Cooke was fouled just outside the box, Bell curled a superbly struck free-kick into the top right corner giving Taylor no chance in the Scarborough goal.

In seven minutes of time added on, Nantwich went down to ten men after skipper Caspar Hughes was shown a straight red for what seemed like a fair challenge on the far side. Despite this, it was the Dabbers who finished stronger and deserved at least a draw.

Next up is a trip to in form Warrington Town next Saturday (3pm kick-off) for what will be a tough challenge on the road.

Nantwich Town: Will Jaaskelainen, Jamie Morgan (Ricardo Fuller 79’), Louis Barnes, Joel Stair, Toby Mullarkey, Caspar Hughes (c), Joe Mwasile (Nathan Cotterell 46’), Matt Bell, Joe Malkin, Sean Cooke, James Lawrie (Danny Glover 46’) Subs not used: Troy Bourne, Callum Saunders

(pics courtesy of Jonathan White)

Second-half - Ricardo Fuller warms up (1)

First-half - Joe Malkin fights to win the ball (1)

aerial view nantwich town v scarborough feb 16 2019

Second-half - Sean Cooke is fouled (1)

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