Nantwich Town 0 AFC Fylde 3

Tuesday 18th September 2012
Nantwich Town 0 AFC Fylde 3
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
At: Weaver Stadium
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £9; Programme: £2 (28 pages)
Weather: cold, dry after heavy rain before match
Attendance: 274
Duration: first-half: 45:00; second-half: 47:46

The 18th of September is perhaps one of the more significant dates as far as my football-watching is concerned. From the list of ten games I’ve previously seen on today’s date, one from 29 years ago stands out, as does another of, perhaps, particular interest to Laurence.

1984: Stafford Rangers suffered one of their most humiliating FA Cup exits at the hands of Rushden Town in a First Qualifying Round Replay. Rushden were helped by referee Mr L. L. Watson who, I recall, made some strange decisions which always seemed to go against Rangers. At full-time, fans invaded the pitch and surrounded the referee, resulting in a slap on the wrists and a fine from the FA. A few years later, Mr Watson ran the line at Wembley in the 1990 FA Cup Final.

1991: The first of two visits to Oxford United’s old Manor Ground. In this game, Peter Shilton played for visitors Derby County and conceded twice as Oxford won 2-0 with goals from Trevor Aylott and David Penney.

Added now to that list of games I've seen on 18th September is a first visit to Nantwich Town’s relatively new Weaver Stadium, opened in 2007. I’ve kept a visit to the Weaver Stadium up my sleeve and, for some unknown reason, it has taken five years to finally visit the ground. Their old ground at the end of Jackson Avenue, which I visited on a couple of occasions, has now been redeveloped into a housing estate.

Found to the north of the town centre, the stadium has a 300-seater stand on the near touchline, known as the ‘Baker Wynne & Wilson Stand’, complete with the ‘Dabber Diner’ hatch at one side by the turnstile and bar at the rear. Opposite is the ‘Whitby Morrison’ covered terrace with a TV gantry on the roof.

Both sides went the game on the back of a decent result at the weekend. Nantwich (8th with 13 points from 7 games) won 2-1 at FC United of Manchester while AFC Fylde (9th with 12 points from 7 games) thumped Buxton 5-0 with James Dean netting a hat-trick.

Thankfully, the heavy rain stopped and the wind eased just in time for kick-off but the cold weather persisted. Nantwich (in green and white halved shirts) got the game underway attacking the eastern end of the ground, left to right in relation to my seat on row 4 of the stand. They started positively without seriously testing Fylde’s goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe. At the other end, I don’t think Nantwich’s Jon Brain touched the ball before making an 15th-minute punch.

Fylde thought they’d taken the lead in the 21st minute. Janes Dean dummied Richie Allen’s low cross from the left and Michael Barnes fired home at the far post, only to see the flag raised for offside.

That was the nearest either side got to breaking the deadlock in the first half and being not used to having a goalless first half, I did wonder if my run of games without a 0-0 stretching back to the end of December was going to end.

During the interval, Nantwich Cricket Club paraded the trophy for winning the Chapel Press Cheshire County League Premier Division.

As the players came out for the second half, the PA announcer described the home side as the ‘mighty Dabbers’. According to, ‘a Dabber is someone born within the town's ancient boundaries. It's a little like being a Cockney because you were born within the sound of Bow Bells in London. However, since the sound of the eight bells of St Mary's Parish Church in the centre of town travel several miles, you could be born within the sound of Nantwich bells but not qualify as being a Dabber’.

Back to the action and the hope for a goal.

Barely two minutes after the restart, Hinchliffe leapt to his right to tip over a 25-yard free-kick from Sean Cooke that looked destined for the net.

Much to the displeasure of the home fans, the goal I wanted came in the 53rd minute and stemmed from a difference of opinion. A lofted ball into the area flew off the head of a ‘player’ and ended over the byeline. The assistant flagged for a goal-kick but the referee said ‘corner’. Joe Booth delivered it from the right to the near post where Michael Barnes flicked the ball into the far side of the net. “Well done ref”!

With few Nantwich chances being created, Manager Jimmy Quinn threw caution to the wind and made all three substitutions at the same time in the 73rd minute. The changes almost paid off as Lewis Short headed a Cooke chip into the area straight at Hinchliffe.

Brain, once of Port Vale, produced a decent save to keep out Michael Barnes’ shot but couldn’t prevent Fylde doubling their lead in the 80th minute. Dean saw an initial shot blocked and Jack Dorney drove home through a crowded area.

Hinchliffe, arguably, secured the points with a superb diving save to keep out Darren Moss’ free-header and a third Fylde goal in the 85th minute made sure. The visitors swiftly broke upfield through Allen who found Michael Barnes in space on the right with a crossfield ball. Barnes’ shot hit defender Chris Flynn and flew into the net past a helpless Brain. My first thought was ‘own goal’ but the PA announcer credited Barnes with the goal.

So, with the Weaver Stadium finally ‘ticked’, just a trip to Whitby Town’s Turnbull Ground remains to once again complete visiting all of the grounds in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division.

Nantwich Town (green and white halves / green / green): 1. Jon Brain, 2. Darren Moss, 3. Zack Foster, 4. Christian Smith, 5. Mat Bailey (capt), 6. Rob McDonald, 7. Sean Cooke, 8. Niall Maguire, 9. Mark Beasley, 10. Will Jones, 11. Lewis Short. Subs: 12. Chris Flynn (for Smith, 73), 14. Josh Lane (for Jones, 73), 15. Fraser McLachlan (not used), 16. Casper Hughes (for Foster, 73), 17. Matt Lowe (not used).

AFC Fylde (red and blue stripes / blue / blue): 1. Ben Hinchliffe, 2. Steve Haslam, 3. Adam Sumner, 4. Matty Hughes, 5. Michael Taylor, 6. Bradley Barnes (capt), 7. Joe Booth, 8. Jack Dorney, 9. James Dean, 10. Michael Barnes, 11. Richie Allen. Subs: 12. Paul Jarvis (not used), 14. Adam Farrell (for Dean, 81), 15. Jimmy McCarthy (not used), 16. Glenn Steel (for Dorney, 84), 17. Adam Tennant (not used).

Referee: Nicholas Barnard (Warrington).
Assistants: Clive Brown and Matt Rickard.

0-1 Richie Allen (53)
0-2 Jack Dorney (80)
0-3 Michael Barnes (85)

Nantwich: none
AFC Fylde: Steve Haslam (YC, 17), Jack Dorney (YC, 76)