Stevenage 5-0 Nantwich 0: Godden treble and two from Smith with four assists from Martin knock out valiant Nantwich
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage beat Nantwich Town of the Evo-Stik Norther Premier League 5-0 in their FA Cup first round clash at the Lamex on Saturday.
A hattrick from Matty Godden and two from right back Jonathan Smith saw Boro home comfortably after left-back Joe Martin provided four assists.
The scoreline was harsh on The Dabbers as they never stopped working hard.
With more than 300 making the long journey down from Cheshire for the game – more than far more illustrious league opponents you could name but won’t for fear of embarrassing them – the excitement of watching their team in the world’s oldest cup competition was palpable before the game.
That was without even mentioning the notion of a giantkilling act as Darren Sarll’s Boro have been maddeningly inconsistency this season.
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Sarll, who has been as frustrated as the club’s fans at the up-and-down form shown by his talented team this season, took nothing for granted against the Dabbers from Cheshire.
The tough former non-league player for Hitchin Town among others knows his team is capable of more, after suffering disappointing league defeats at Yeovil and at home to Forest Green Rovers.
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But equally he was well aware their opponents were far too good to be taken lightly.
Despite Boro’s opponents playing in the first round proper for only the second time in their long history since being formed in 1884 passionate Sarll hailed their impressive efforts in reaching such a milestone.
Despite the Dabbers sitting 22nd out of 24 teams in the Northern Premier League they have shown good form in the FA Cup, not least by easing past Nuneaton Town before winning away to Kettering Town after a draw at the Weaver Stadium and were well organised under manager Dave Cooke.
Having already played five matches to get to this stage they were FA Cup veterans, even if no-one had managed to equal a proud record the Dabbers hold.
For in 1995, in a preliminary round tie against Droylsden, Andy Locke scored the fastest ever hat-trick in the grand old tournament’s entire history.
Locke completed his hat trick in two minutes and 20 seconds with the record still standing for a hat trick in any round of the cup including the preliminary rounds before the First Round Proper.
Stevenage were also reeling with the news the highly-rated Northern Irish starlet Ben Kennedy will be out for six weeks following an arthroscopy operation after picking up a knee injury in the home defeat by League Two new boys Forest Green Rovers.
All the ingredients were in place for an enthralling cup match with the possibility of a famous away win by a team who play at the seventh tier of English football.
However, the team Sarll picked for this game was far too strong and on 14 minutes Boro went 1-0 ahead.
Left-back Joe Martin, one of Sarll’s players who is not only a hard worker but offers talent with it fired a free-kick into a crowded box for star striker Matty Godden to nod home to settle the team’s nerves.
The match fell into a scrappy phase punctuated by Sean Cooke – son of boss Dave – who fizzed a low shot just past Boro Keeper Joe Fryer’s far post.
There was certainly no sense of nepotism with Cooke the younger as he was named in the Evo-Stik Premier Division team of the year last term after grabbing an impressive 21 goals. He has also been an instrumental part of the Dabbers FA Cup run this season too.
His strike fired the visitors as moments later as Harry Clayton – who grabbed the winner in the last round against Kettering – fired a powerful near post drive Fryer was alert enough to turn away.
The temperature of the match rose a notch after the eager and far from malicious Danny Newton flew into Joel Stair, earning a deserved yellow card from referee Michael Salisbury.
There was an acknowledgment from both teams that Newton’s mistimed challenge was just that, not least because Newton has played enough non-league football to earn the benefit of the doubt, and no little respect for his rise, fuelled by hard-work and a lovely eagerness simply to play the game which often comes from those who have battled their way into league football later.
Godden nearly made it 2-0 after the break with a cushioned volley but keeper William Jaaskelainen was equal to the task and the score remained the same.
On the hour mark the Dabbers nearly equalised after good work by the tricky left-footed winger Nathan Cotterell beat right-back Jonathan Smith before sprinting down the flank to square for Cooke to fire narrowly over as the Dabbers gave it their all in a bid for an equaliser.
It was to prove to be a crucial moment in the match as four minutes later Smith, who had just seen his man ease past him put Boro 2-0 ahead from four yards after a goalmouth scramble.
Three minutes later the defender made it a pair as he put Sarll’s men 3-0 up with a header followed closely by Godden grabbing his second of the match.
It proved to be a good week for left-backs after PSG’s Layvin Kurzawa netting a treble in the Champions League as Boro’s Martin provided four assists.
Fitness proved to be crucial as Dabbers players went down with cramp. Godden proved the gap was large by claiming a fifth after Dale Gorman fired in.
All in a good day at the office for Boro as they are through to the second round but the Dabbers can be very proud of their efforts.