Second-half - second Nantwich Town goal - Sean Cooke celebrates his goal - FC United

Nantiwch Town kicked off their Northern Premier League campaign with a 1-1 draw away at FC United Of Manchester, writes Jack Beresford.

And Dabbers boss Dave Cooke described the match as “a great advert for the league” as both sides battled out a competitive draw at Broadhurst Park.

It was the home side who started the brighter and they should have taken the lead after 10 minutes as The Dabbers failed to clear a cross into the box.

It fell to Micheal Flower who found himself in on goal, but debutant Anthony McMillan was on hand to save with his legs.

One minute later, they had another opportunity as a cross from the right was met by Micheal Potts at the back post, however his header went wide of the far post.

The Dabbers struggled to get into the game, with the hosts knocking the ball around nicely.

In the 21st minute FC United had another great chance to take the lead when Morgan Homsom-Smith played it down the line to Adam Dodd.

He raced down the left side to the byline and cut it back for Regan Linney who saw his first time shot cleared off the line by Troy Bourne.

The Dabbers finally has their first opportunity in the 32nd minute as Luke Walsh played a fantastic reverse ball to find Sean Cooke who was able to take it in his stride and race towards goal.

As the midfielder beared down on goal he shot, but Lavercombe stood up well and saved the close range strike.

They soon had a second chance when Prince Heywood played in David Webb who had acres of space down the right side.

As he got into the box, he unleashed a venomous strike but it was straight at the keeper.

The Dabbers started the second period the better of the two sides.

They were using the ball well and outplayed their opponents in possession but couldn’t manage to muster a chance.

In fact, it was the hosts who had the first opportunity of the half and took the lead on 63 minutes.

A long ball wasn’t cleared which allowed Micheal Flower to control the ball and then feed Paul Ennis.

His tame shot deflected off the outstretched leg of Joel Stair before wrong-footing McMillan and nestling in the back of the net.

Manager Cooke said after the game: “I thought it was a poor goal to concede, we should have dealt with the long ball better than we did.”

The Dabbers changed their shape bringing on Luke Walsh and Joe Malkin.

And three minutes after going a goal down, The Dabbers were back on level terms.

Malkin did brilliantly down the right to find space and then pick out Cooke who had ghosted his way into the area.

Cooke then fired a first time shot from the edge of the box into the bottom left corner to get his side back on level terms.

Nantwich were now on top and came within inches of taking the lead just five minutes after scoring.

Again it was Cooke at the heart of The Dabbers attack as he broke down the left before playing a ball inside to Callum Saunders.

The Welshman returned the ball to Cooke who saw his curling effort go wide of the post.

There was one more chance for Nantwich as Stair played a fantastic diagonal ball to James Lawrie down the left side.

He drove into the box before getting to the byline and firing at goal, but angle was too tight and it went the wrong side of the post into the side netting.

(Image: Sean Cooke, courtesy of Jonathan White)

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