Nelson still in touch in Trophy semi

Paul Paynter
Paul Paynter

BLUES boss Paul Paynter is urging his players to give a good account of themselves in the second leg of their First Division Trophy semi-final tie against Norton United.

United player/manager Scott Dundas gave his side the advantage going in to the decisive leg at Community Drive on Tuesday, scoring with four minutes of normal time remaining on Wednesday night.

“We were definitely unfortunate,” said Paynter. “Norton played some nice football but over the course of the game we created the better chances. With that in mind I’m a little bit disappointed with the result; we just weren’t good enough to convert our openings on the night.

“Before the game a 1-0 defeat against a side like Norton wouldn’t have perturbed me but we should have taken something from the tie. It’s going to be difficult going to their place, but we could have made it much easier for ourselves by taking a slight advantage in to the second leg.”

Nelson’s last experience in Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent, proved to be an extremely unpleasurable one as they endured an 8-0 thumping in the NWCFL Challenge Cup. But Paynter believes his players have come a long way since that frightful evening.

“In effect it’s only half-time, but there’s no doubt that they’ll be a much stronger proposition at home,” he said. “I think it will be quite a cagey fixture but we know that we have to score. We need to keep things tight early on and stay in the tie. If we can do that then we can push on and give it a go as the game progresses.”

Paynter added: “I would like to think the result is an indication of how far we’ve come. In all honesty it was probably an off night for them though. They didn’t have that same spark that we’d seen earlier in the season. But that’s credit to my lads; we limited them and we’ve certainly improved. We need to give a good account of ourselves next week and that will give us a better indication of our progression.”

But before any further discussion on cup matters, Nelson must concentrate on climbing the table. Formby are the visitors to Lomeshaye Way’s Little Wembley tomorrow and Paynter is eyeing up revenge for the 3-0 drubbing at Altcar Road at the end of February: “Formby are a decent side and they are similar in terms of their philosophy and the way they try to get the ball down and play. We didn’t perform well against them last time and we were beaten comprehensively. But we beat them 2-1 in the First Division Trophy earlier in the season. We should be looking at three points tomorrow. We are getting used to playing regular games now so we are picking up a bit of speed. However, we’ve not quite got the results that neither myself or the chairman expect. The 2-1 defeat away at Eccleshall wasn’t good enough at the weekend either.”

The Blues have ample games in hand on teams above them, but Paynter wants his side to start putting points in the bank. The Blues boss is eager to gather momentum now in their push for a mid-table finish.

He said: “We need to start putting a run together and picking up points. I’m wary that we are still second from bottom so we need to help ourselves. Realistically mid-table is still on the cards. If we string a couple of wins together then it will propel us up the table and there’ll be plenty of games left over for us to continue our push. I’m confident that we can achieve our target.”

• ROCK Rovers’ A team enjoyed a 1-0 win at Clitheroe RBL on Saturday.

Rovers dominated the first half, but squandered several chances and went in goal-less at the interval.

They left it late as well, with Thomas Cleaver scoring with a back post header.

The hosts hit the post and bar, but it was a deserved win for Rock, with Andrew Stobbs named man of the match.

Tomorrow the first team are at Calder Vale, and the reserves at Worsthorne, meet The Venue at 12-30 p.m.