A SPIRITED second half comeback was not enough for Nelson to reach the North West Counties First Division Trophy Final, as they went down 3-2 at Norton United on Tuesday night.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, the Blues fell further behind to a Mark McDonald strike, but they rallied and struck back through Abdul Katin, before Lee Botham headed the Admirals into a shock lead on the night.
Norton rallied late on, and drew level through Delroy Fox, before Lee Talbot ensured victory with a 4-2 aggregate scoreline.
The home side began the well and could have led inside four minutes, as Michael Machin raced clear, but keeper Nathan Worrell did well to block his low drive.
Nelson could have led themselves five minutes later, as Steve Brunt’s header back to keeper Lance Dyche was intercepted by Jerome Matthews, but his header was weak.
Richard Smith went close for United on 21 minutes, as he headed narrowly wide from Machin’s corner from the left.
Talbot went close again for the home side soon after, as his flicked header was pushed away by Worrell from Fogg’s freekick.
Worrell again denied Norton just past the half hour mark, as he spread himself well to block Paul Rutter’s drive with his legs, and then kept out the same player right on half time.
The Blues’ resistance was finally broken two minutes into the second half, as Fox’s corner found McDonald at the back post, and he fired across goal and into the far corner with a left foot drive.
Matthews wasted a golden opportunity a couple of minutes later, as he volleyed high over the bar from Brett Ferguson’s cross.
Nelson regrouped, and levelled in style on 63 minutes, as Kinser who had only been on the field a minute after replacing Manzar Ditta, fired a left foot drive across Dyche and into the far corner from the edge of the box.
The Admirals then shocked the hosts seven minutes later, when Abid Uddin’s corner was powerfully nodded home from close range by Botham.
Tom Fogg almost brought United level on 72 minutes, as his close range effort from Fox’s corner was hacked off the line by Botham.
Norton drew level with 15 minutes left, with a fantastic effort of their own, as Fox cut in from the right wing to send an unstoppable left foot drive beyond Worrell via the underside the crossbar.
United sealed Nelson’s fate just three minutes later, as Machin escaped down the left and rounded Worrell, before squaring to Talbot for a simple tap in.
Talbot almost added a fourth in stoppage time, but his close range drive from Smith’s corner was turned away by the superb Worrell.
Report by Paul Downey
Saturday’s fixture saw Nelson play host to Formby, with the Blues earning a well-deserved point from a 2-2 draw.
Adverse weather conditions saw both teams struggle to get into their stride as they battled with a difficult playing surface, and the sides were evenly matched in the opening exchanges.
A direct free kick taken by Lee Botham early in the half was a chance for Nelson, but the shot found visiting keeper Lee Carroll.
At the other end, Mark Kirby squandered a decent chance for Formby, sending the ball wide of the target and keeping the game goal-less.
The visitors gifted the Blues a great chance by giving away another free kick. This time, Brett Ferguson’s shot forced a fantastic save from Carroll.
Formby then pressed forward on the counter, forcing a corner which led to nothing.
Just before the half hour, Formby opened the scoring when Kirby headed home a long, right-wing cross at the back post.
This inspired a short spell of pressure from the away side, but Nelson pulled together to withstand the threat.
In the closing minutes of the half, Jerome Matthews then set up Suleman Hafeji, whose run was brought to an abrupt halt as he was brought down as he darted into the box.
The spot kick was converted with ease by Matthews to bring the home side level.
A heated midfield battle opened the second half proceedings.
Key players Phil Cain for the Nelson and Joe Walker for Formby giving particularly noteworthy performances, which earned them the man of the match accolade for their respective teams.
Abid Uddin finished a beautiful move, but fortune was not in the Blues’ favour and he was flagged for off-side, the scoreline remaining level.
Minutes late, Formby’s Mark Kirby broke free of his marker but once again shot wide of the post.
On 57 minutes, tricky Matthews darted clear and beat the keeper. He retained his composure and calmly finished despite a defender waiting to clear from the line.
Nelson then brought on Khaser Ahmed for Butt, before Botham gave away a silly free kick near the corner flag, but luckily the chance was wasted by the away team.
The 74th minute saw an equaliser from the visitors, as Joe Walker, who had been causing problems throughout, converted a cross from the left.
In search of a winner, Nelson brought on Nasir Hussain.
As the game came to a close, Nathan Worrell made a superb save from a late effort from Matthew Jones, and star man
Cain picked up an unnecessary booking for kicking the ball away.
Matthews clashed with a defender in the penalty area but nothing was given.
The game ended a draw and a fair and much-needed point for both teams.
Tomorrow, Nelson are at Leek CSOB.
Report by Harry Manning