win play-offs - Nantwich FC beat Stalybridge Celtic 4-2 - pic 7

Nantwich Town continued their excellent form with a 4-2 win over Stalybridge Celtic at the Swansway Stadium, writes Liam Price.

Courtney Meppen-Walters and Perry Bircumshaw returned to the Dabbers side after missing the game against Hednesford.

Gio Loureiro made his first start for the club after scoring in that game with George Milner out injured.

Nathan Okome sliced over the bar from a difficult chance as the ball dropped over his shoulder from a Meppen-Walters free kick.

The Dabbers did get off to the perfect start, however, as Kai Evans took advantage of a lapse at the back to charge through and win a penalty in the ninth minute after being tripped by keeper Luke Hewitson.

Byron Harrison sent the keeper the wrong way to open the scoring.

After the opening goal it was Stalybridge who had more of the ball but did little with it.

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A good move ending with a cross deflected to Ben Garratt was as good as it got.

He also had to palm over a corner that threatened to trouble the goal in a wind gust.

Evans was at it again in a direct run at Celtic captain Connor O’Grady that ended in a corner.

Nantwich started to assert their dominance towards the end of the first half.

An excellent Timi Sobowale cross was headed over, before Troy Bourne hooked the ball over his own shoulder with his back to goal at a corner but over the bar.

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Sobowale did well again in earning a free kick on the edge of the box.

And up stepped Meppen-Walters to drive it low through the wall and in for his first Dabbers goal to make it 2-0.

There was still time for Kai Evans to curl in a third before the break, cutting in twice to bamboozle the defence and helped slightly by a deflection.

There were chances even to extend this, Sobowale firing over and Meppen-Walters seeing a goal-scoring header controversially ruled out for a foul.

It was a wonderful end to the half from Nantwich that ultimately took the game away from the visitors.

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Evans put another opportunity into the side netting early in the second half but the angle was narrow.

He then turned provider, crossing just ahead of his strike partner Harrison.

Nantwich did make it 4-0 on 71 minutes.

Harrison tucked away his second and 19th of the season from another cross from the right.

Sobowale, who secured the Player of the Match, had a strike from distance that was easy for Luke Hewitson.

Darius Osei came off the bench and had a couple of chances, one very simple for Garratt but one slid almost inexplicably wide with the keeper beaten but it did take a deflection.

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The Dabbers were guilty of taking their foot off the gas late on, and Stalybridge were able to score two consolation goals in the last five minutes.

Max Leonard bundled in the first among a mass of bodies from a corner.

Then in stoppage time, Brad Byrne got the second on the rebound after a good save by Garratt.

But it was too little too late as Nantwich secured the win and continued what has become an excellent 2024.

There are teams with games in hand, but for now the Dabbers find themselves a point off the play-offs with three to play.

The next and final home game of the league season is against City of Liverpool on April 20 at 3pm.

(Images courtesy of Peter Robinson)

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win - Nantwich FC beat Stalybridge Celtic 4-2 - pic 5

win - Nantwich FC beat Stalybridge Celtic 4-2 - pic 9

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