Nelson close in on Premier return after Wright brace

Dynamic duo: Peter Wright celebrates scoring in Nelson's win over Atherton Collieries
Dynamic duo: Peter Wright celebrates scoring in Nelson's win over Atherton Collieries

A Peter Wright double in a 4-2 victory over fourth place Atherton Collieries saw Nelson take a step closer to being crowned NWC Division One champions.

The 31-year-old striker opened the scoring in front of a bumper community day crowd, which saw nearly 300 people pass through the gates at Victoria Park, before the division’s leading scorer netted his 35th of the season from the spot - to move three goals ahead of 1874 Northwich’s Mike Brandon.

The Blues made their customary rapid start when Danny Mahoney’s diagonal pass was headed wide by Wright, but the marksman atoned for that miss within 60 seconds when cushioning Mahoney’s lofted pass with a sublime first touch and firing past Phil Priestley.

Wright, a constant menace to the visitors, was in again moments later, but he took his shot early and it flashed wide of the post. But the Blues were rampant at this stage and the lead was doubled in the 10th minute when, after a Robert Grimes shot was cleared off the line by Kieran Halliwell, Matt O’Neill and Wright combined to tee up Joe O’Neill who struck from inside the six-yard box.

However, the Colls were handed a lifeline in the 25th minute when Gareth Peet curled an exquisite free-kick home after Lydon Hodgkiss felled Charlie Stoker on the edge of the penalty area.

This was to be the away side’s only effort on goal in the half though and five minutes later Nelson had scored again to restore their two-goal advantage. Wright did the damage from 12 yards out once Joe O’Neill was dragged down by Priestley after latching on to a loose back pass.

Nelson managed to carve half chances for Matty O’Neill, Mahoney and Grimes in the remaining 10 minutes of the half, while Atherton’s Darryl Patton escaped with a booking following an ugly challenge on Ed O’Neill.

The second period saw the visitors establish themselves more into the game, and they certainly shaded the possession with the Blues seemingly happy to contain their opponents and attack on the break.

But just before the hour the game sparked in to life once more when a combination of Finch and Matty O’Neill impeded Peet inside the box and the same man dusted himself off to score his second of the game to make it 3-2.

The introduction of Liam Boswell almost paid dividends immediately when in the 65th minute he danced inside the full back and forced a wonderful save from Priestley who flicked the effort on to the post before claiming the ball as it ricocheted back across the line.

Boswell was to have the last laugh, however, when in the 89th minute he latched onto another dreadful back pass and rounded Priestley to give Nelson maximum points and move the club closer to a return to the Premier Division.