Second-half - Byron Harrison eyes the ball for the Dabbers

Nantwich Town’s hopes of making the play-offs were dealt a blow in a 1-0 away defeat at Newcastle Town, writes Liam Price.

The hosts completed a league double over the Dabbers at The Red Industries Stadium.

The entire Nantwich squad was unchanged from the win over Stalybridge, even the subs.

The recent deadly duo for Nantwich, Kai Evans and Byron Harrison, had early sighters, Harrison flicking a header well wide and Evans shooting straight at Joseph Slinn.

A very tight offside call denied Harrison his 20th goal of the season as he calmly rolled it past Slinn.

The Castle keeper was busy again as Evans got a quick throw in from Perry Bircumshaw and set off across the byline, forcing Slinn into an instinctive save to push it away from a very narrow angle.

Evans curled a free kick low and wide from about 20/25 yards out and the ever-threatening Courtney Meppen-Walters couldn’t wrangle a couple of headers towards goal.

First-half - Kai Evans on the ball (1)

The best of the chances fell to the unlikely source of Bircumshaw, after Evans unleashed an effort from outside the box that Slinn couldn’t hold onto, Perry slid in but Slinn did well to smother the rebound.

Top scorer for Newcastle Jake Avery only had one half opening that was simple for Ben Garratt after he out-muscled Joel Connolly.

In the second half it always felt Nantwich had more gears to go into but never did.

Evans shot into the side netting after a Troy Bourne header from a corner was blocked.

Newcastle then started to show more threat, first dragging an effort wide on the counter attack that should really have been converted.

The very next minute, they did take the lead.

First-half - brilliant save by Newcastle keeper from Bircumshaw (1)

A simple kick out from Slinn into the Nantwich half, a couple of simple passes left the Dabbers defence at sixes and sevens and the ball was squared to the unmarked Jack van der Laan who finished across Garratt and in.

Scored in the 60th minute, it was a case of ‘cometh the hour, cometh der Laan’ for Newcastle.

Knowing the repercussions of defeat, Nantwich looked nervy and insecure in response, passes not into feet or inexplicably being put out of play.

It was the first time in eight matches that Nantwich had trailed in a game, and the first in 11 that they’d conceded the first goal, and it showed.

A free kick into the box was bundled wide when it looked like it was in for a Dabbers equaliser.

Then a deflected effort went for a corner, but set-pieces were wasted all game long.

As Paul Carden threw on attacking subs this did leave space at the back and Newcastle might have extended their lead.

Their own sub Nathan Barry fell over when through on goal, then another effort of his was parried by Garratt as they saw out the victory.

Neil Baker hasn’t had a long career in the game like this for nothing; his teams have always been extremely well drilled and organised.

Nantwich’s Achilles heel all season long has been facing technically limited but physically dominant teams like this, especially on the road.

Avro, Hanley, Trafford, Vauxhall all spring to mind as similar feeling-wise to Saturday.

All of those teams will still be in the NPL West next season and, barring a remarkable ending, so will Nantwich.

(Images by Jonathan White)

First-half - Newcastle Town keeper grabs the ball (1)

One Comment

  1. A good run come to an end,a very flat performance against a side we should be beating.
    Still a chance to make the playoffs Come on the Dabbers

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