First-half - Byron Harrison rises to head at goal (1)

Nantwich Town continued their solid start to the league in 2024 with a 1-0 win over play-off chasing Chasetown at the Swansway Stadium, writes Liam Price.

Frazer Cookson and Nathan Okome both started before their Solihull bans kicked in, and there was only one line-up change from that game, with Callum Saunders replacing Kai Evans.

The first big chance of the game came via the head of Byron Harrison, who met Jacob Edwards’ cross powerfully but it was superbly tipped over the crossbar by Bradley Clarkson in the Chasetown goal.

Luke Yates had Chasetown’s first real effort which was easy for Scott Moloney. The Dabbers keeper also had no trouble with a second Yates attempt and a short-range effort from the captain Danny O’Callaghan.

Some of the possession play from Nantwich was sideways and backwards passes were starting to elicit groans from the home crowd.

When the Dabbers were more positive, it reaped its rewards.

Joel Connolly, in his first game after his new contract was announced, tried to catch Clarkson out with a free kick but the keeper was in top gear to tip it over the bar.

The Dabbers more attacking play brought the opening goal just six minutes before half time.

First-half - Byron Harrison celebrates his goal with teammates (1)

A free kick was floated with pinpoint accuracy by Connolly and Harrison, after getting his eye in earlier, this time beat Clarkson with a header planted into the far corner.

Byron’s 12th goal of the campaign once again proving his importance to the Dabbers’ season.

Nantwich tails were up and they pushed for a second before the half-time whistle.

An incredible passage saw Edwards find Saunders with another decent cross but Clarkson somehow got in the way of it.

Chasetown looked to respond in the second half and continue their unbeaten run which had been at four games.

George Cater was guilty of going for goal when he had more space than he thought and in the end the save was simple again for Moloney.

Jordan Evans was marauding forward from left back and had a couple of opportunities.

First-half - Callum Saunders is convinced his shot crossed the line for a goal (1)

The first was more dangerous, flashing a shot across the face of goal that Cookson had to deal with. His second left a lot to be desired as it was sliced horribly over after being well found again.

Evans miscued another, but The Scholars’ best chance to level came when Luke McGinnell stayed up from a free kick and directed a free header wide of the far post.

He had his head in his hands after that one as he knew what a massive opportunity had gone begging.

Moloney flung himself out of his goal to divert a cross away, always a risk for a keeper but he measured it perfectly with Cater looming to potentially poke in the equaliser.

Things had got a bit static for the Dabbers again, not helped by Harrison having to come off with a knock.

Paul Carden also chose to sacrifice Jake Kirby for Perry Bircumshaw to help counter what he saw as an increasing threat down the Chasetown flanks.

But the other sub the Dabbers made almost sealed the game.

Kai Evans nearly repeated his wonder goal from Witton away, squeezing through multiple challenges, seemingly running down a blind alley but still finding room for a shot that curled agonisingly off the post.

Second-half - Kai Evans on the attack (1)

Edwards, doing himself no harm again with a solid 90-minute performance, saw a shot blocked before the Dabbers’ red card curse struck again.

Connolly threw himself into a challenge, winning the ball but catching his man with the follow through and was shown a straight red.

Unbelievably, that was Nantwich’s fifth red card in the last six games in all competitions, and Carden conceded afterwards that bans are hurting the squad.

But despite these setbacks, Nantwich’s unbeaten league start to 2024 continues, and with three clean sheets in a row.

Nantwich are next at home against Witton Albion this Saturday January 20 at 3pm.

(Images by Jonathan White)

Second-half - Dabbers fight for the ball (1)

First-half - Chasetown keeper Bradley Clarkson rises to the ball (1)

Second-half - Nathan Okome on the ball (1)

Full-time - Nantwich Refrigeration Services man of the match Courtney Meppen-Walters celebrates victory (1)

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