First-half v Stafford - first Nantwich goal - Sean Cooke slots the spot-kick straight down the middle (1)

Nantwich Town earned a fine 2-1 win at home to rivals Stafford Rangers in a Bank Holiday clash in front of more than 1,000 supporters, writes Adam Bateman.

Goals from Sean Cooke and Kole Hall in the first half were enough for all three points for the Dabbers.

Akiel Raffie for the Dabbers proved a constant thorn in the Stafford defence, but the visitors also proved a threat with the dangerous Theodore Bailey Jones.

A Jake Charles header from a Stafford corner was well saved by Matty Gould before Bailey-Jones saw his shot saved low down.

Moments later Hall found Raffie out wide and he cut inside to the penalty area before being brought down for a penalty.

Cooke stepped up to fire straight down the middle and put Nantwich 1-0 ahead.

Soon after Jake Bickerstaff and Raffie tested Mateusz Hewelt in the Rangers goal.

Then against the run of play Stafford found an equaliser.

Second-half - Joe Malkin wins the header (2) (1)

Andy Burns crossed to Michael Tait-Moran, who from close range managed to poke the ball into Gould’s net.

Bickerstaff was thwarted by Hewelt who made an outstanding save from another Nantwich corner.

Hall dribbled past defenders only to see his shot from close range go very narrowly past the far post.

Joshua Endall saw a headed effort just go over the home side’s bar.

And Tom Tonks had a shot very well saved by Gould.

Then, just moments before the half time whistle, a ball over the top found Cooke running into space.

He helped to find Hall who fired the ball into the back of the net to put Nantwich 2-1 up, to the delight of the crowd.

First-half v Stafford - second Nantwich goal - Man of the Match Kole Hall with his first goal for the Dabbers (1)
Second Nantwich goal – Man of the Match Kole Hall

Stafford emerged in the early stages of the second half with plenty of intent.

Both sides attacked in an end-to-end second period.

Jediael Abbey for Stafford had a shot from the edge of the area that just flew over, and a few minutes later saw his header very well saved by Gould.

The very impressive Bailey-Jones also headed over as chances came and went.

Nantwich almost went two goals to the good when Hall chased a long ball and Hewelt came out of his area.

Hall lobbed him only to see his shot bounce off the post and into the very grateful hands of the Stafford keeper.

The chances kept on coming but neither side could find another goal, with Alex Fletcher going closest for Rangers with a shot that whistled just past the upright.

Victory for Nantwich has finally secured their place in the Northern Premier League for next season.

(Images courtesy of Jonathan White)

Second-half - players from both side rise to the ball (1)

Second-half v Stafford - Kole Hall lobs the stranded keeper but it hits the post (1)

First-half v Stafford - Kole Hall controls the ball (1)

Pre-match - Optimum Pay Stadium (1) (1)

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