NELSON moved clear of the basement sides in the NWC First Division with a 1-0 win over struggling Leek CSOB at Lomeshaye Way’s Little Wembley.
Manager Paul Paynter handed a debut to youth team goalkeeper Alex Thompson and also included youngsters Josh Dale and Bradley Cookson.
Both sides began the fixture nervously and Brett Ferguson’s wayward free-kick demonstrated that.
Both sides failed to settle in to any kind of rhythm and were both guilty of conceding unnecessary free-kicks which disrupted the continuity of the game.
The visitors created the first clear opening of the clash but Oliver Mellor dragged his effort wide of the post.
But the Blues responded immediately and from a corner Lee Bootham hooked his attempt over the bar.
And Nelson threatened again from another corner moments later; Tufail Baloch profited from the hesitancy in the Leek defence but his shot flashed wide of Ashley Knight’s goal.
Then, following a midfield battle, Ian Bold’s set-piece from the edge of the box whistled past Thompson’s left hand post.
Minutes later set-piece specialist Bold swung in another free-kick and when Thompson missed it a Leek forward headed wide of the empty net.
After the break Thompson had to be alert to turn aside a glancing header and, after a double Blues substitution which saw Baloch and Shakeel Butt replaced by Javeed Mohammed and Artur Laslowski respectively, Phil Cain’s strike was ruled out for a foul on the keeper.
Craig Boothby pressed and was almost rewarded following a piercing burst in to the penalty area, only to be foiled by Knight.
Both sides pressed but to no avail and when it seemed as though a stalemate was likely Nelson found the breakthrough.
The ball broke kindly for Ferguson who netted with the help of a deflection in the 90th minute.
Paynter’s side could have even doubled their advantage deep in to injury time. As Leek pressed, committing goalkeeper Knight forward in a desperate attempt for an equaliser, the Blues broke but Ferguson somehow fired wide of the gaping goal from Paul Walsh’s pass as Knight raced back to cover.
The result meant three points for Nelson and a rare clean sheet while Boothby was awarded the man of the match accolade.
• COMMERCIAL Old Boys bid to reach the Umbro Masters National Final on Sunday at Colne’s XLCR Stadium.
But in the way of the locals are Harrogate Veterans, who represented England in Thailand in 2010, winning the World Cup!
Entry is free on Sunday, with refreshments available, and kick-off is 2 p.m.
Tony Bannister’s men are likely to be without former Claret Graham Lancashire, but otherwise have a full-strength squad, and the game promises to be a close one, with Commercial going down by the only goal in their previous meeting at Tadcaster.