Nelsons’ brave effort falls just short in LFA Challenge Cup

Ritchie Allens equalised for Nelson
Ritchie Allens equalised for Nelson

A seventh-successive win on Saturday, over promotion rivals 1874 Northwich, took Nelson second in the NWC First Division table.

But despite giving a superb account of themselves at AFC Fylde - three divisions above the Blues in the football pyramind - on Tuesday night, it was the hosts who advanced to the semi-finals of the LFA Challenge Trophy after a five-goal thriller.

On Saturday, in front of a crowd of 170, manager of the month Mark Fell had to make several changes, missing Richie Allen, Sakeel Abdullah, Robert Grimes, Michael Morrison and Ed O’Neill.

In came two loanees, Ed’s brother, and former Burnley winger, Matt O’Neill from Nantwich, and Darren Green, who has featured for Northwich Victoria and Kendal this season.

The Admirals couldn’t have wished for a better start, as they scored three times in the first nine minutes to stun their visitors, who had won their last five games without conceding.

George Melling put them ahead in the second minute, converting Adnan Ahmed’s well-flighted free kick.

A minute later, Brandon Barski added a second as Ahmed’s free kick wasn’t fully cleared.

And on nine minutes, Barski was upended in the area, and stand-in skipper Peter Wright converted from the spot.

Northwich received a lifeline shortly after, however, asd Lee Jones was brought down and Matt Ward made it 3-1.

The visitors hit the underside of the bar just before half-time, but the pressure continued after the break, with Melling sent off for a second booking.

Matt Conkie made a superb double save to deny Barski and Green, as the Blues ran out winners.

On Tuesday, Nelson welcomed back Grimes and Allen, against his former club.

Joe Booth put the hosts ahead in the first minute from an indirect free kick, only for Grimes to level after eight minutes with a crisp left-foot shot.

Marcus Carver put Fylde back in front, but right on half-time Allen - Fylde’s all-time record goalscorer equalised a second time.

Nelson went behind yet again after the break as Carver prodded the ball home after a goalmouth scramble, and despite a gutsy performance, the Blues couldn’t find another leveller against an almost full-strength Fylde side.

Tomorrow, Fell’s men are back in league action as they entertain Daisy Hill at Victoria Park, with kick-off at 3 p.m.