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Nantwich Town 2
Evans (9', 59' pen)
1 Dunston
Bircumshaw (50' og)

REPORT | Nantwich Town 2 Dunston UTS 1

Dunston made the 382-mile round trip to Cheshire to take on fellow step eight side Nantwich Town in the Isuzu FA Trophy. Leaving the UTS Stadium at 9am, almost a full squad made their way down south with Wembley dreams in mind.

The game began and instantly the home side, who had won five of their last six games prior to this meeting, asserted their dominance over a Dunston team who were slow to get started. This had consequences for Dunston, as Kai Evans was played through on goal after a ball in behind Craig Baxter and opened the scoring on nine minutes, with a simple finish past Dan Staples into the bottom right corner.

Nantwich remained on top after the deadlock was broken, with Dunston finding it very difficult to get a foothold in the game. However, Dunston finally had their first decent spell in the game about ten minutes later. Some intricate build up play led to JJ Chrisp drilling a low cross along the six-yard box, but there wasn’t a blue shirt available to turn it into Scott Moloney’s net.

A few minutes later, a Craig Baxter cross appeared to strike the hand of a Nantwich defender in the home side’s penalty area, but despite many appeals, referee Barry Lamb waved away any shouts for a Dunston penalty.

Dunston stayed on top during this period of the game, with JJ Chrisp putting in another dangerous ball across the goal from the left-hand side, but Nantwich centre half Nathan Okome made a crucial interception before it could reach an on waiting Sado Djalo at the back stick.

Handbags were thrown towards the end of half, as Craig Baxter had a coming together with Perry Bircumshaw near the technical areas. Both sets of players engaged some good old argy-bargy, leading to the two original culprits being shown the first yellow cards of the afternoon.

Towards the end of the half, Jude Swailes was forced off with a hamstring injury, allowing for Richard Coulson to make his return from a shoulder injury. The 29-year-old made his first appearance of the 2023-24 campaign, slotting into midfield as skipper Michael Pearson moved back into central defence.

An eventful first half came to a close, with Nantwich very nearly adding a second goal. Kai Evans was delivered a great cross into the six-yard box with plenty of space, but his first-time effort was poorly sent over the crossbar.

Dunston made the perfect start to the second half, as a well worked throw-in routine was flicked on by a leaping Jack Maskell, and a collision between Nantwich’s Scott Moloney & Perry Bircumshaw and the ball led to the ball ending up in the back of the net.

Dunston spent a measly seven minutes level, as Nantwich regained the lead with Kai Evans’ second goal, a well struck penalty into the bottom left corner beating Dan Staples despite diving the right way. The dubious penalty decision came as a result of a foul from JJ Chrisp on the scorer, as he got caught the wrong side of Evans. The foul, however, was visibly outside the penalty area, but this wasn’t noticed by the refereeing team.

The remainder of the second half consisted of Dunston pushing hard for a second equaliser. The hosts didn’t offer much threat, leaving Dunston to come forward. Chances for Jack Walker, Luke Carr and Chris McDonald couldn’t be converted for Dunston to get their second goal.

The final chance of the game fell to substitute Liam Thear, who worked his usual “Scrappy” magic in the box and created himself a shooting chance. But as he aimed to create a magic moment by scoring a late equaliser, he failed to hit the target and sent it over the crossbar.

The full-time whistle was blown, and Dunston’s short FA Trophy campaign came to an end. A decent performance away from home, but Dunston couldn’t get past the Dabbers.

Written by Adam Richardson | Image Credit - Beauty Time Photography

Published Saturday 23rd September 2023