First-half v Mickleover - Dabbers debutant and Man of the Match Akiel Raffie on the ball (1)

Nantwich Town assistant manager Jay Bateman said the home defeat to Mickleover Sports was “a tough one to take”, writes Jack Beresford.

Stuart Beavon’s 63rd minute wonder strike helped the visitors to a 1-0 victory over the Dabbers on a cold Tuesday night at the Optimum Pay Stadium.

Nantwich were forced to name a much-changed XI from one that lost 1-0 at Basford on Saturday.

Both Dan Cockerline and Caspar Hughes both missed out due to injury and goalkeeper Matty Gould also missed the game due to being called up for New Zealand National team.

New signings Ethan Mitchell, Akiel Raffia and Tony McMillan were all handed debuts.

The visitors began on the front foot as former football league striker Beavon received the ball with his back to goal before controlling nicely, turning and shooting low.

Veteran goalkeeper Tony McMillan was able to get down quickly and save.

A minute later, Nantwich had their first effort on goal as Shaun Miller weaved his way into the box before making space for a shot straight at the Mickleover keeper.

Miller was playing like he had a point to prove and he linked up well with Matty Devine down the left side before the latter curled his effort the wrong side of far right post.

New signing Raffie joined the club on a season-long loan after impressing for Fleetwood U23s when they visited the Optimum Pay Stadium last week.

His pace and control was enough to cause defenders issues and he burst down the right side before cutting inside and firing a strike which crashed off the inside of the post.

On the half hour mark a corner from the left was cleared but Troy Bourne did well to recycle the move and feed Miller in behind who cut inside and fired a shot straight at the keeper.

First-half - Shaun Miller shot is just wide of the far post (1)
First-half – Shaun Miller shot is just wide of the far post

On the brink of half time, Shaquille McDonald got on the end of a high ball before controlling nicely and rifling a strike that beat McMillan and crashed off the underside of the bar, before being cleared away.

The hosts began the second period the stronger.

Mason Warren controlled the ball before swivelling and shooting all in one motion, but his volley went side of the far left post.

In 63rd minute, the visitors took the lead with a goal that was fit to win any game.

An aimless long ball towards former Burton Albion star Beavon was controlled well and he volleyed into the far right corner, giving McMillan no chance.

It was a real sucker punch for The Dabbers who should have been ahead following their first half dominance.

Raffie was the centre point of the Nantwich attack down the right flank and crossed low towards Malkin.

First-half - Dabbers debutant and Man of the Match Akiel Raffie hit the post with this shot (1)
Dabbers debutant and Man of the Match Akiel Raffie hits the post

However, the Nantwich forward could not sort his feet out and his effort ballooned over the bar from six yards out.

Mickleover defended resolutely in final 10 minutes went home with the three points.

Nantwich have another huge game on Saturday as they host Ashton United who currently sit four points above then in the league.

It’s a chance for struggling Dabbers to make some ground on the teams above them.

Assistant manager Bateman said: “It’s a tough one to take, football’s a cruel game.

“I think as you’ve all seen tonight, we deserved something out of that game and we haven’t got anything out of the game, so as you can imagine it’s a disappointing changing room.

“We have to go again on Saturday.

“There’s nothing we can do about it now.

“I thought we played some really good football, from attack to defence we look solid.

“Fair play to Beavon he’s scored a worldie to win the game for them.”

(Images courtesy of Jonathan White)

Second-half - Mickleover keeper Jonathan Hedge rises for the ball (1)
Second-half – Mickleover keeper Jonathan Hedge rises for the ball

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