First-half - first Dabbers goal - Byron Harrison pokes in his 20th of the season v Widnes

Nantwich Town ended the 2023/24 season with a 2-1 victory over Widnes at the DCBL Stadium, writes Liam Price.

There were two enforced changes to the team, with Jon Moran in for the injured Paddy Kay and Callum Saunders starting for Gio Loureiro.

The Dabbers struck early as they have done many times throughout this season.

The first free kick of the game was floated in by Joel Connolly, headed down by Moran, touched on by Nathan Okome and poked in by Byron Harrison.

It was his landmark 20th goal of a fine season in just the third minute.

Nantwich created next to nothing for the rest of the half as Widnes recovered from the early setback to dominate possession.

James Steele had a couple of breaks down the right channel, taking advantage of the full backs being pushed up the field and leaving space.

That strategy, that has also involved splitting the centre backs when in possession, has been hit and miss when it’s been used this season.

First-half - Nathan Okome fights for the ball (1)

It was from one of those runs that Widnes’ equaliser came in the 14th minute.

Steele squared it to Sean Miller who was unmarked in the box and able to turn and fire in across Ben Garratt, who had no chance.

Miller then struck a free kick straight at Garratt in the first shot on target in the game that wasn’t a goal.

Sharif Deans hooked a difficult effort high and wide as Widnes continued to get joy down the wings.

The ever-dangerous Steele drove an expertly hit volley just over the bar from a free kick played into him from the corner position, great technique that would have deserved a goal.

Kai Evans and Steele traded shots that didn’t trouble the respective goals, before what looked like a cross drifted dangerously towards the far top corner from Widnes and brought the best out of Garratt who clawed it away.

Jack McGowan, who scored in the reverse fixture, almost repeated the trick just before half-time after blasting over on the turn in what was another presentable chance.

McGowan and Evans started the second half with further half openings that didn’t amount to anything.

McGowan then sprung in behind but couldn’t find a white shirt with his pullback.

The moment that twisted the game came from a sub by Paul Carden and his staff, sacrificing Connolly for the more attack minded Loureiro. And it worked instantly.

Second-half - second Dabbers goal - Callum Saunders expertly lobs the keeper (1)
Second-half – second Dabbers goal – Callum Saunders expertly lobs the keeper

He was involved in the play in the middle and slotted in Saunders to finish superbly, a lob over Cameron Terry that did see him get a touch, but not enough.

Moran had an effort in the box blocked to deny one of the moments of the season, before McGowan headed straight at Garratt.

Another twist in the Dabbers’ favour came on 71 minutes, when Widnes’ goalscorer Miller was sent off for a second yellow for hauling down a Nantwich player who was trying to launch a counter attack.

A crazy thing to do on a yellow and lucky for him there was nothing riding on this game for Widnes.

Steve Irwin had a low shot held by Garratt, as the team of 10 tried to nab a point.

Sub Will Jones fired over the bar, but they were getting closer.

None more so than Deans who launched a header off the crossbar on 87 minutes as Nantwich breathed a sigh of relief.

But the Dabbers were able to hold on and reward a good number of travelling fans with victory.

Nantwich ended the season in 10th place in Northern Premier League West, six points off the play-offs.

(pics courtesy of Jonathan White)

Second-half - second Dabbers goal - Callum Saunders - fans celebrate (1)

Full-time - players celebrate with fans (1)


  1. Geoff Stockton says:

    Good luck for next season

  2. George Beardsell says:

    Congrats on ending season on a high. Upper middle table something to build on for next year.

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