Monday, February 09, 2009

Non-league football: Nantwich defeat promotion rivals

Monday, February 09, 2009, 08:45

UniBond League Premier Division

Nantwich Town 3, FC United of Manchester 0

by Paul Downey

NANTWICH manager Steve Davis praised the contribution of captain Michael Lennon after he fired a brace in a 3-0 victory over FC United of Manchester at the Weaver Stadium.

"He's got better and better," said Davis.

"I showed a lot of faith in him when he wasn't playing as well as he can at the start of the season. He's responded well, and took his goals really well."

FC had the first chance of the game in the first few minutes when Jerome Wright cut in from the left and flashed a powerful effort just over the bar.

Nantwich came back into the game and could have taken the lead in spectacular fashion when Danny Griggs cut inside Danny Warrender and curled an effort just wide of Ashton's goal.

They were awarded a penalty after 13 minutes as Glyn Blackhurst's shot was blocked by the hand of Adam Tong, who was fortunate to receive just a yellow card despite stopping a clear goal-scoring opportunity.

Lennon stepped up to send Ashton the wrong way, slotting the ball into the right corner of the net.

The home side could have doubled their lead shortly after when Ashley Carter played in full-back Damian Jarrett, but he fired straight at Ashton from just inside the box.

United could have been level on the 20-minute mark, but Jerome Wright's cross was smashed narrowly wide by Adam Carden

Tong should have received his marching orders on 28 minutes after a blatant body check on Lennon, but wasn't even booked, much to the dismay of Nantwich boss Davis.

United were now having the lion's share of the possession and should have been on level terms six minutes before the break when Simon Garner's cross was headed over by the unmarked Rob Nugent.

Town could have gone into the break further ahead, but for a superb save by Ashton from Blackhurst's superb half-volley.

Nantwich came out the traps early in the second half, and could have scored twice in the space of a couples of minutes when Richard Smith and Blackhurst both had headers cleared off the line.

The pressure finally told just past the hour mark as a superb through-ball by Dave MacPherson found Carter, who broke clear of the defence and slotted home well under the advancing Ashton.

The goal seemed to relax the home side, and they started to create chances at a canter, with the dangerous Lennon and Griggs going close.

They were rewarded with a third goal three minutes from time when Blackhurst robbed United substitute Dave Chadwick and squared to the unmarked Lennon to tap home.

The forward could have completed his hat-trick a minute later, but fired wide from a low Carter cross.

Both teams could have been reduced to 10 men in stoppage time when Carden clashed with Lennon by the dugouts, but both players received a yellow for their troubles.

Davies was delighted with the victory, but revealed he had harsh words with some of his players at half-time.

"I didn't think we played particularly well in the first half," he said. "I didn't feel we were using the ball well enough in wide areas.

"In the second half, we came out with a lot more purpose and it showed in the performance."

After a victory over one of their closest rivals, Davies insisted the future is bright for the Dabbers.

"There are plenty of games to go, and we aren't looking past our next game, but we have come a long way in a short space of time and are aiming to get into the Blue Square sooner, rather than later," he said.

NANTWICH: Jones, Jarrett, Tickle, Smith, O'Loughlin, Blackhurst, Carter, MacPherson, Whittaker, Lennon, Griggs. Subs: Francis, Hawthorne, Jack, Southern, Mahmoud.

Attendance: 1,547.