Nelson hit for six by leaders Formby

HAT-TRICK HERO: Ashley Higgins takes on an Irlam defender on Saturday.
HAT-TRICK HERO: Ashley Higgins takes on an Irlam defender on Saturday.

FIRST Division leaders Formby spoiled the party midweek as they fired six past the Blues at Victoria Park.

Having picked up back-to-back wins against Oldham Boro and Irlam of late, which saw Nelson climb to ninth in the table, Mark Fell’s side went in to the clash full of confidence.

However, the Merseysiders were relentless with six different scorers settling the fixture.

The game started well for the home side as Brandon Barski gave the Blues the lead in the 19th minute but they suffered a blow when Mark Kirkby and Michael White both netted just minutes before the interval.

Nelson failed to respond after the break and they were punished as the visitors scored four in the space of six minutes around the hour mark - Jason Carey, Emini Adegbenro, Francis Smith and Paul Speed all adding to the scoresheet.

It had been a different story at the weekend when the Blues turned on a five star performance to thrash Irlam in front of the Sky cameras on Lomeshaye Way.

On the back of victory against Oldham Borough, manager Mark Fell made just one change to the starting XI with Ralph Welch stepping in for Andrew Naylor.

It was the visitors who carved the first opening of the game when a free-kick, conceded by Iain Robinson in a dangerous position, was cleared only as far as Chris Rowan who drilled his effort straight at Ben Woodhead.

However, Nelson took the lead moments later when Tom Anderton broke in to the Irlam area and squared for Ashley Higgins to notch his ninth goal of the season. Robinson almost atoned for his earlier error but the defender’s header from skipper Chris Turner’s corner whistled wide.

Danny Johnson went close in Nelson’s next foray forward when his looping centre bounced on to the top of the crossbar with Jamie Brewer well beaten. At the other end Woodhead did well to palm away a dipping cross as Irlam threatened.

After Welch picked up an injury in a strong challenge, though eventually getting back to his feet to resume, the away side went agonisingly close to levelling when a firm header from a corner was arrowing towards Nelson’s goal nwhen it was headed off the line. Irlam continued to push as the half petered out as Ryan Hutchinson blazed over the top while Burgess prodded wide moments later.

The second half at ‘Little Wembley’ turned in to somewhat of a goal fest. Hutchinson sent the first warning shot for the away side as he struck a free-kick straight at Woodhead but their persistence was rewarded when Irlam broke through the centre, catching Nelson cold, and Christian Lawlor netted with ease to make it 1-1. Irlam skipper Steve Mills could’ve turned the game on its head shortly after but his header, when unmarked, produced a great save from Woodhead.

Stung by the setback, Mark Fell’s men responded and pressed hard as Brewer was forced to turn Tuner’s thunderbolt around the post. The resulting corner prompted a goalmouth scramble and when the ball was partially cleared Danny Johnson hammered the ball in to the back of the net to restore Nelson’s lead.

Hutchinson shaved the outside of the post with Brewer plunging to his right. Hutchinson was then replaced by Brandon Barski and in his first involvement the substitute was brought down inside the area. Up stepped Higgins to score his second spot kick of the week to make it 3-1. And Higgins was gifted his hat-trick, again from 12 yards out, after midfielder Nat Taylor was upended inside the penalty area. But Nelson weren’t finished there and Barski broke clear, rounded the keeper and fired in to an empty net for Nelson’s fifth.