NELSON extended their 100% start with a 2-1 win at home to Leek CSOB on Saturday as they went top of the league.
The first opening fell to Leek, but Stephen Day completely missed his kick.
Play was very frantic early on, as each side tried to settle, but after 13 minutes Leek took the lead with a well-struck goal from Danny Hughes.
This setback stung the Blues into action and Danny Boyle hit a free kick straight at Hackney in the visitors’ goal.
Joint player-boss Robert Grimes then set up Liam Hutchinson, but his effort sailed wide of the mark.
Nelson penned Leek in their own half for long periods but were unable to create any clear cut openings.
Leek’s tactics were thwarting Nelson’s usual passing game, and Ashley Higgins entered the referees notebook for a rash challenge borne out of frustration.
At half-time Nelson had made no impression on the Leek defence, and after the break they brought on Paul Scott and Wayne Morrison, replacing Nathan Lawless and Higgins.
It soon paid dividends as, in the 48th minute, Grimes put Nathan Egan through on goal, and he made no mistake from 18 yards to score his fourth goal of the season.
Soon after Scott was booked for an over zealous challenge, and the free kick led to a scramble in the Nelson area which was eventually cleared.
Grimes was then booked for dissent.
Egan then went on a long run deep into Leek’s half, which was halted unfairly by Karl Miller, who became yet another to be yellow carded.
Yet another Leek foul on Grimes just outside the area led to a direct free kick which fellow player boss Michael Morrison hit straight at the wall.
Leek then took a quick free kick which released Miller, and his goal bound shot was turned for a corner by Billy Carrington.
Miller then committed another foul and was sent off for two yellow cards.
Rather than tip the balance in favour of Nelson, it spurred the visitors on, although a deep cross from Michael Morrison forced Hackney to tip it over for a corner.
A goalbound effort from Grimes was blocked by a defender’s midriff, and Nelson were still looking disjointed, despite the extra man.
Michael Morrison was then booked. and Sean Malkin replaced Hutchinson as Nelson sought a winner.
Then with barely a minute left, right out of the blue, a 35-yard thunderbolt from captain marvel Matthew Whitwell rocketed into the top corner of the net - a goal worthy of winning any game.
Tomorrow Nelson are at Daisy Hill.