Nelson narrowly beaten by leaders

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Nelson, the only side to beat runaway leaders Runcorn Linnets in the league this season, couldn’t record a double asv they were down to a late goal.

Back came Peter Wright after suspension, with Mike Fletcher restored to the defence, although still absent were George Melling, Ben Hoskin and Nat Taylor.

A poor clearance from Ben Woodhead put the Nelson rearguard under pressure early on, as both sides started at a fast pace, while the sides traded bookings as Mark Houghton was penalised for a late challenge on Joe O’Neill, before Ed O’Neill joined him in the book.

Wright then spotted keeper Jon Ritchie out of his area and tried an opportunist effort from distance, but Ritchie retreated and grabbed it on the line.

Dangerman Towey - instrumental in most of Linnets’ best moves - was presented with a good chance for Linnets, but shot over from a good position.

Ed O’Neill did find the net, but play was brought back for a foul.

Brother Matt threatened the home defence, but his final pass was disappointing, and as the break loomed, Paul Fildes and Dan Mahoney combined well down the right.

However, the hosts got their noses in front when left back Martin Crowder fired in a well-struck shot.

Linnets started the second half on the front foot, but Nelson weathered the storm and mounted attacks of their own.

And it was no surprise when Porter crossed for Matt O’Neill to stab home the equaliser.

Wright then hooked a shot just past the post, and Fildes was unlucky to be booked as he contested a 50/50 ball with the keeper.

Linnets substitute Matt Cross hit the top of the bar with a free kick, but with seven minutes remaining, poor defending let in Houghton, who easily beat Woodhead from six yards to claim the points.

Nelson host Congleton Town at Victoria Park tomorrow (kick-off 3 p.m.) in the NWC Premier Division.

HARRY MANNING