Cheadle Town 1-1 Whalley Range

No sooner had the referee blown his whistle to start the match and we had finished our conversations about the rather clement weather and the starting line-up we were lamenting the fact that we had gone a goal down.

After 53 seconds to be precise. A free-kick from the right was parried by Arran Dixon but straight at the feet of an awaiting 'Range player who stroked it home from the edge of the box.

In a half where we had most of the possession we only created two more half-chances.

On the quarter-hour mark Thabiso Magida was threaded through on the left of the box and looked certain to bury an equaliser but was thwarted by an excellent last-gasp challenge. It wasn't until the 37th minute that Luke Pearson saw a goalbound cross-shot tipped over the bar.

'Range could have then gone into the break with a healthier lead but we were thankful that the stooping header that met a low cross from the right scuttled wide of the post.

The second half got off to a lively start.

A cross from the right was palmed conveniently into Richard Whyatt's path but he couldn't get himself into shape for the shot with Dean Nolan then heading narrowly over the bar shortly afterwards.

A dangerous 'Range corner was then hacked off the line at the far post with substitute goalkeeper Josh Clews called into action when he saved at his feet with a 'Range forward bearing down on his goal.

On 54 minutes we had the ball in the net; alas it was disallowed for handball.

On 71 minutes, the breakthrough. Daniel O'Donnell had forced the 'Range keeper to scramble away a long-range effort with the resulting corner seeing Luke Pearson whip in a teasing cross from the right for Dean Nolan to flick home from close range.

Dean Nolan's goal to level the scores at 1-1 in the 71st minute

Dean then had an excellent chance to nudge us into the lead with 80 minutes gone as he fashioned himself some space for a shot on goal but his effort was straight at the keeper with the 'Range custodian denying him again two minutes later by beating away Dean's shot at the near post.

As the adage goes, there's no such thing as an easy game. Given the difference in level that us and Whalley Range play at the neutral might have been expecting a landslide in our favour but that was never going to be the case against a well-organised and robust 'Range outfit.

STARTING XI: Dixon, McLaughlin, Pearson, Trucca, Rodrigues, Birch, Magida, O'Donnell, Kelly, Whyatt, Sherrington. SUBS: Clews (gk), Nolan, Ahmed, Rathburn, Lindon