First-half - first Dabbers goal - Byron Harrison (1)

Nantwich Town let a 2-1 lead slip as they fell to a painful defeat away at Hednesford on Boxing Day.

The Dabbers conceded twice in the last five minutes to lose 3-2 at Keys Park.

Jai Verna had a half chance when cutting in on his right foot early on but it was an easy enough save for Scott Moloney.

Joe Piggott picked up where he left off on Saturday with his physicality bringing him an opening but it was a good block from former Dabbers manager Ritchie Sutton who was starting at centre back for the Pitmen.

After making it through the first 10 minutes without conceding for the first time in four games, the Dabbers struck themselves in the 13th minute.

Piggott’s run in the left channel made it, the ball came to Byron Harrison who marked his return to the side with a goal as he practically walked it into the net and delighted the travelling Nantwich fans behind that goal.

First-half - first Dabbers goal - Byron Harrison celebrates his goal (1)
Byron Harrison celebrates his goal

Jake Kirby saw the Hednesford defence open up for him but he and the players who eventually caught up with him couldn’t get a shot away.

Then, an end-to-end spell brought the equaliser. Akiel Raffie drifted in from his right wing position and stung the palms of Kieran Boucher with his left foot.

Hednesford kept it alive and worked it up the other end, Daniel Gyasi got some space in the box and took his goal well with Moloney having no chance.

Nantwich had to lift themselves again and did so quickly in what was an open game.

Raffie couldn’t get a shot away after bringing the ball down well in the box on his chest.

But the very next minute, Nantwich led again.

First-half - Joe Piggott shoots at goal (1)
Joe Piggott shoots at goal

Piggott hit the crossbar with a fierce strike and Kirby was quickest to react and slotted away his first league goal for the Dabbers.

Paddy Kay had a couple of tries from range that didn’t trouble Boucher but the Dabbers took a lead into half time.

As the second half ticked on the Dabbers had chances to probably kill the game.

The biggest came on 50 minutes as Kay harried and won possession in the corner of the box and curled wide from a narrow angle.

Piggott was having a strong performance and clipped what looked like a cross into the box but it almost dropped in the top corner.

Then Harrison almost charged down Boucher as he looked to kick clear.

Second-half - Amir Tavakoli crosses the ball (1)
Amir Tavakoli crosses the ball

Gyasi was still threatening for the home side and Nathan Okome was composed in heading clear one of his crosses.

Hednesford were building momentum and a nearly 800 strong home crowd were sensing it and getting behind their side.

Gyasi nearly scored a spectacular equaliser, meeting a corner on the full volley but luckily Moloney was well positioned to save it.

A handball by Josh Endall denied Harrison a run through on goal on 75 minutes.

The referee claimed afterwards the defender’s arm was too close to his body for it to constitute handball.

Nantwich’s last real chance came on 80 minutes, when Piggott forced Boucher into an untidy save that he spilled but a home defender was there to clear.

But in echoes of the game at Stalybridge, it all fell apart for Nantwich in the last five minutes.

Second-half - Paddy Kay on the attack (1)
Second-half – Paddy Kay on the attack

Verma was the hosts’ best player on the left side, so manager Paul Carden subbed off Raffie for the more defensive minded Amir Tavakoli on 80 minutes to try and shore up that side.

Unfortunately, on 85 minutes Verma brilliantly equalised with a goal from that side, isolating Troy Bourne one on one and blasting past Moloney.

Worse was to come for the Dabbers.

On 89 minutes, another corner caused some problems, the Dabbers hadn’t sufficiently cleared and the ball was whipped back in.

At the back post, Bourne and Endall were grappling each other and Troy was adjudged to have hauled down the defender for a penalty.

The foul also saw the Dabbers captain receive a second yellow card, to make it back-to-back sendings off for Bourne which means he will now miss the next seven Nantwich games.

Thomas Thorley sent Moloney the wrong way and the Dabbers had little time and a player less to respond with as they fell to defeat, with Kai Evans lucky to only get a yellow as tempers boiled over.

All eyes now turn to New Year’s Day and the home game with 1874 Northwich, the teams 16th and 20th in the table.

(Images courtesy of Jonathan White)

Full-time - Dabbers players thank fans for their support (2) (1)
Dabbers players thank fans for their support

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