Second-half - Stafford Rangers goal - Jake Charles celebrates after scoring his goal (1)

A much-changed Nantwich Town side lost 1-0 against Stafford Rangers at The Weaver Stadium in the Dabbers final home league game of the season, writes James Brown.

In a first half, the Dabbers created their best opportunity on 19 minutes to break the deadlock when captain James Lawrie delivered a free-kick into the path of Callum Saunders.

But his flick was kept out by a quick reaction save from Stafford keeper Adam Sivitar.

The visitors had good spells of possession throughout the first half and had their best opening just before the half hour mark.

A set-piece was nodded down for Jake Charles to turn in but he failed to direct his effort on target.

After the break both sides showed signs of life for the 605 crowd, beginning with Nantwich centre half Clayton McDonald who went for goal from inside his own half minutes after the restart.

A good chance fell the way of Lawrie moments later as the Dabbers provided more of a threat in the Stafford box, dragging a half volley wide from close range.

Second-half - Man of the Match Troy Bourne challenges for the ball (1)

Following some important blocks from McDonald and Troy Bourne at the other end, Nantwich had another opportunity to open the scoring.

Toby Mullarkey went on a marauding run, breezing past the Stafford defence before firing low just wide of the left hand post.

What turned out to be the winner came on 57 minutes following an excellent piece of goalkeeping from Nantwich’s Lloyd Allinson.

The loanee keeper did brilliantly to get a hand to a rasping Joe Cuff strike, but unluckily the rebound was driven towards the back post for Charles to tap in unmarked and put Stafford ahead.

Steve Jones, Joe Malkin and Caspar Hughes all came on for Nantwich after falling behind in an attempt to salvage a draw however nothing seemed to be clicking on the day.

Nantwich Town eye the ball in the first-half (1)

The visitors pressed for a second and would have done so if it wasn’t for some vital defending by Man of the Match Troy Bourne.

The Dabbers huffed and puffed in the final stages in front of a brilliant 605 supporters on a sunny Easter Monday but it wasn’t to be as Stafford claimed the three points which secured their safety in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.

Nantwich have secured fourth spot in the league and will face either South Shields or Warrington Town in the play-offs.

Nantwich will now be focused on making it back-to-back Cheshire Senior Cup Final victories on Wednesday night when they face Cammell Laird 1907 at Altrincham FC (7.45pm kick-off).

Nantwich Town: Lloyd Allinson, Nathan Brown, Kallam Boyle, Joe Davis, Clayton McDonald (Caspar Hughes 66’), Troy Bourne, James Lawrie (c), Toby Mullarkey, Danny Glover, Callum Saunders (Steve Jones 60’), Luke Walsh (Joe Malkin 66’). Subs not used: Louis Barnes, James Hawkins (GK)

(Pics by Jonathan White)

Second-half - Stafford Rangers goal - Jake Charles celebrates after scoring with teammate (1)

Full-time - Assistant Managers Alex Meechan and Andy Fern celebrate staying up (1)

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