NELSON bounced back from a string of defeats with a hard-fought draw against Chadderton for their first away point of the season.
The Blues welcomed back Joe Heseltine and handed a debut to Stuart Booth for their visit to the Andrew Street ground.
After some tentative opening exchanges, Nelson skipper Javeed Mohammed forced keeper Dale Latham to save low to his right at the expense of a corner.
In another Blues attack, a Ralph Welch cross produced an acrobatic scissor-kick from leading scorer Jerrome Matthews which flashed narrowly wide.
Paul Paynter’s side went close to opening the scoring again when a long clearance from Nathan Worrell was misjudged by a Chadderton defender and his poor header put Welch in the clear, but he snatched at the chance and pulled the effort wide of the target.
The home side started to make their mark on the game with strike partners Matthew Chadwick and James Curley prominent.
A number of free kicks forced Nelson on the back foot as Chadderton camped in the Blues half, which led to opportunities for Chadwick and Sean Nolan, but neither could trouble Worrell.
However, the deadlock was finally broken in the 33rd minute when Sean Sherwood stooped low to fire a bullet header beyond Worrell from a dangerous Curley centre.
The hosts had a chance to double their advantage moments before the interval but Chadwick blazed over after out-pacing Booth.
At the restart Paul Buckley’s men increased the pressure, dominating both possession and territory.
In a rare Nelson break captain Mohammed couldn’t stretch far enough to turn in an enticing cross before play switched back and Chris Pauley drilled a set-piece wide.
Worrell then made another superb point blank save, as Chadderton again threatened, to keep the deficit to a single goal.
Play became scrappy as both teams began to tire and then disaster struck when Heseltine committed a foul inside the penalty area.
Up stepped Chadderton’s dangerman Chadwick to take the spot kick, but the home side’s leading scorer fired wide.
It was a huge let-off for the away side and one they looked to take immediate advantage of as Paynter replaced Matthews and Welch with Wayne Morrison and Abid Uddin in a double change.
A third substitute was then made moments later as Brett Ferguson replaced Shakeel Butt for the final quarter-of-an-hour in Nelson’s search for a leveller.
The changes gave the Blues an extra impetus and Morrison went close as his free-kick whistled past the post.
But just as it looked like the hosts would hang on for all three points, Heseltine’s free-kick was swung in to the area and super-sub Ferguson’s looping header beat Latham for the equaliser.
Nelson are at home to Ashton Town in league action tomorrow (kick-off 3 p.m.).