First-half - Joe Malkin goes close for the Dabbers (1)

Nantwich Town’s hopes of automatic promotion were all but ended in a 1-0 home defeat to league leaders South Shields last night.

A victory for the Dabbers would have kept them in with an outside chance of catching the leaders for the one automatic promotion spot.

But they are now 14 points behind the runaway leaders, so will have to fight now for one of the four play-off places.

More than 500 fans turned out for the Weaver Stadium clash last night, which the visitors won with an early second half strike.

Nantwich started the stronger of the teams, with Prince Haywood and Jamie Lawrie testing the Shield keeper Boney early on.

Sean Cooke thought he’d scored on 24 minutes but his powerful drive was brilliantly turned around the post.

Shields threatened for the first time when Gilchrist turned his defender and hit a neat effort which Gregory punched over for a corner.

The key moment came just three minutes after the restart.

Second-half - South Shields goal - Bali Mumba fires low across Dabbers keeper Cameron Gregory (1)

South Shields goal – Bali Mumba fires low across Dabbers keeper Cameron Gregory

Mumba steered his effort into the far corner after a ball into the box, leaving Gregory helpless.

Cooke and Haywood both received yellow cards in quick succession as frustration began to set in to the Dabbers players.

Nantwich brought on the returning Aaron Burns on from the bench on 65 minutes as they pushed for a leveller.

On 73 minutes, Joe Mwasile played in Joe Malkin, who cut onto his right foot and curled one straight at Boney.

Burns then went close with a fine effort just over the bar.

They continued to press Shields back into their box, but despite pressure and corners, the visitors held out to secure the three points.

Defeat leaves Nantwich in fifth place on 52 points from 31 games and facing a tough battle to secure a play off spot with a number of other sides also in the hunt.

They are back in action this Saturday March 14 away at struggling Matlock Town.

(Images courtesy of Jonathan White)

Second-half - Joe Malkin on the ball (1)

First-half - Ben Harrison forces the ball forwards for the Dabbers (1)

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