Blues are knocked out of the cup at quarter-final stage

Nelson FC Manager Mark Fell before the game against AFC Darwen.'Photo Ben Parsons
Nelson FC Manager Mark Fell before the game against AFC Darwen.'Photo Ben Parsons

Nelson were knocked out of the NWC First Division Cup at the quarter-final stage, losing 1-0 in extra time against Holker Old Boys on Tuesday night.

The pitch passed a 2 p.m. inspection, after the tie was switched following last week’s postponement at Victoria Park.

But the sides could not be separated in normal time, and it took a 99th-minute strike from Holker’s Brad Hubbold to earn the Stags a semi-final encounter with Hanley Town.

Manager Mark Fell handed starts to Michael Morrison, Matty O’Neill and Sakeel Abdullah, but, on what was, to be expected, a tricky surface, Holker had the first opening when Stuart Pattinson seized on a Nelson throw in, before firing just wide.

But the Blues grew into the game, and Peter Wright was denied by a fine save from Oliver Bell, before Ed O’Neill appeared to be impeded in the box after a positive run, although the referee ignored appeals for a penalty.

The Admirals continued to carve out chances, and Matty O’Neill’s goalbound shot was deflected for a corner.

After the break, Holker, playing down the slope at Rakesmoor Lane, were on the frontfoot for the first 20 minutes, but the closest they came to breaking the deadlock came on the hour when John-Paul Stanway’s strike clipped the bar and went over.

Nelson provided a threat on the counter attack, and Matty O’Neill saw his shot blocked by some desperate defending, before substitute Jonny Hession teed up Wright, whose shot was kept out by Bell with the help of the post.

The tie went into an extra 30 minutes, and nine minutes in, Holker scored what proved to be the winner as a cross wasn’t convincingly cleared, and Brad Hubbold guided his shot into the bottom left corner.

Nelson responded well, and Abdullah broke through, only for the excellent Bell to produce another save.

A frustrating night for Nelson was complete when George Melling received his marching orders five minutes from time.

The Blues turn their focus to their title challenge now, with a home game with Eccleshall on Saturday (3 p.m.).