Nantwich: Steven James, Andrew Pearson, Andy White, Andy Keogh, Earl Davis, Alex Frost, Josh Eastwood, Oliver Devenney (Alex Meaney 85), Ben Deegan (Nick Haughton 73), Steve Foster, Max Harrop (Aaron Burns 73). Subs: Sam Wilson, Harry Clayton.
Stamford: Will Jones, Lewis Carr (Ryan Walker 85), Jack Ashton, Alvin Jarvis, Richard Jones (c), Emeke Nwadike (Daniel Lawlor 67), Shawn Richards, Ashley Robinson, Nabil Shariff, Jordan Smith, Charlie Binns (Ryan Robbins 61). Subs: David Staff, John Feetham.
Dabbers hotshot Steve Foster scored a header after just 28 seconds, in a game the hosts controlled, to set the Dabbers on the way to their first win in four games on an emotional night for the club.
Before kick off there was a minute’s applause for Frank Hope a Nantwich Town fan who sadly passed away the night before the game.
Nantwich looked to get the ball forward straight from kick off and Stamford seemed shell-shocked. Steve Foster took advantage with a brilliant header from a cultured Andrew Pearson cross on 28 seconds.
Stamford striker, Jordan Smith, threatened with a powerful header of his own on four minutes but it drifted wide of Steve James’ right-hand post.
Despite the fresh conditions the Dabbers were out of the traps like dogs on heat.
Smith could not stretch his leg enough to convert with the goal gaping on six minutes in a Gascoigne against Germany-like chance but were the Dabbers going off-the-boil?
Returning winger, Max Harrop, made a determined run through the Stamford midfield on nine minutes to suggest not.
With Nantwich top-scorer, Aaron Burns, warming the frozen bench, striking partners, Ben Deegan and Steve Foster, were developing an understanding taking turns to hold the ball while one ran in behind.
Stamford’s Charlie Binns beat Nantwich’s centre back pairing for pace on 16 minutes but scuffed his shot wide.
Stamford seemed to disagree with a few of the referee’s decisions and this galvanised them bringing more urgency to their play.
I do not usually approve of players wearing gloves but I could forgive them tonight.
Binns hit a volley with great technique on 29 minutes but it whistled over James’ bar.
The home side looked comfortable with their 1-0 lead on 31 minutes with most of Stamford’s efforts pegged at source.
It appeared the referee had given a penalty to Stamford on 35 minutes after Earl Davis challenged Shawn Richards in the area but he was pointing for a goal kick. There were no arguments from the away winger.
It was a Nantwich winger who assisted the next goal though. Max Harrop swept a cross in to the area and Josh Eastwood skilfully re-directed the ball in to the corner on 39 minutes.
Richards threatened James’ goal from long range on 52 minutes but it was easy for the keeper to hold.
Nabil Shariff was first to the ball on 54 minutes and his placed effort went agonisingly wide of Nantwich’s right-hand post as the away side showed glimpses of their scoring threat.
Harrop whipped in another vicious cross on 59 minutes that tested Stamford’s Will Jones and the keeper barely managed to clear the ball via a Nantwich striker’s behind.
Smith somehow bundled wide from close on 63 minutes when Nantwich failed to clear a deep freekick.
It was all too easy for the Dabbers and they looked in cruise control when Smith pounced out-of-nothing to drill a shot low in to James’ net on 75 minutes making it 2-1.
Stamford looked hopeless at 2-0 but the Dabbers contributed their good deed of the day in letting them back in to the game.
Nantwich substitute, Nick Haughton, showed his talent when he burst through the middle of the away defence but he could not give the run the finish it deserved on 85 minutes.
Just as a generous five minutes of added time was announced ‘Super’ Aaron Burns added to his already impressive goal tally with a close range header to calm home fans’ nerves on 90 minutes.
I caught up with Nantwich manager Danny Johnson after the game. I ask Danny if he was relieved to get his first win in four games:
“It’s not a relief, I expect these lads to win football matches and it’s just an expectation I’ve got because of the way they’ve performed over the past few months and tonight wasn’t vintage, it was a well-ground out performance.
“Stamford had some good chances, we took three and they took one and we ended up winning the game. We’ve not dominated, they probably had more possession. I don’t understand why they are where they are [in the league], they’re very lively.
“Our lads dug in, for some reason we had some tired legs out there, I don’t know why, the defence was solid enough apart from the goal which was a poor goal [to concede], but we’re pleased but we’re disappointed we’ve let a lot of points slip over the last four games.”