Nantwich Town were narrowly beaten 2-1 by higher league Southport FC in a pre-season friendly at the Weaver Stadium, writes Sam McGarrigle.

The Dabbers hosted the Sandgrounders in their penultimate pre-season friendly before the start of the new 2020-21 Northern Premier League campaign on September 19.

Southport, of National League North, dominated the first 10 minutes of play, controlling the pace of the game and had a few chances, none were converted.

Cooke and Saunders started their pair up at the 18 minute mark as Cooke whipped in a free kick, Saunders got his head to it but it was easy for the keeper to collect.

The first goal came after 20 minutes with Cooke knocking a through ball to Saunders who had McMillan rushing out of his goal.

Saunders initially seemed to get a heavy touch on the ball but it was enough to slot it past McMillan and got Nantwich on the scoreboard.

A corner for Southport in the 25th minute was cleared away but the second ball was picked up and hit towards the Dabbers goal, Jones was caught out flat footed but the hall hit the woodwork and went out.

First-half - Sean Cooke on the ball under pressure from Southport (1)

On the half hour mark, a stray ball clipped the arm of Troy Bourne who was totally unaware and Southport were awarded a penalty.

Morgan sent Jones the wrong way and put the ball in the bottom left of the net.

A scrappy first half ended level at 1–1.

Straight after the break Saunders got a head on the ball towards goal that was parried away, falling to Heath who hit it true but the away keeper got a hand to it and tipped it onto the post.

With 20 minutes left of the game, Morgan noticed the dabbers keeper off his line and took a shot from 40 yards out.

Second-half - Joe Malkin heads to the goal (1)

Jones initially caught the ball above his head, but it slipped through his hands and landed in the back of the net.

With 15 minutes left, Cooke tried to emulate the same shot by Morgan but wasn’t successful as the ball sailed over the bar.

Nantwich had plenty of possession and chances in the second half but frustratingly couldn’t convert any of them.

Southport managed to keep the Dabbers at bay and took the win.

Nantwich Town: Jones, Koral, Devine, Stair, Langley, Bourne, Webb, Haywood, Heath (Malkin, 57), Cooke, Saunders (Mwasile, 70)

Southport FC: McMillan, Challoner, Doyle, Bainbridge (Trialist, 45), Oliver, Ali, Morgan, Benjamin (Anson, 45), Carver (Trialist, 70), Sampson, Woods (Newell, 70)

(Photographs provided by Jonathan White)

Second-half - Joe Mwasile challenges for the ball (1)

First-half - Prince Haywood on the ball (1)

First-half - Nantwich Town on the ball (1)

First-half - Dabbers captain Joel Stair wins the ball (1)

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