NELSON go into Sunday’s derby at home to Colne having made their worst start to a season since 1978.
The Seedhill side have lost all five games so far, their worst sequence in 33 years, when they lost the opening seven.
On Saturday, they came within a whisker of recording their first victory when they visited Haslingden.
With the last men at the wicket and four runs required to win, Haslingden’s number 11 Eddie Shah, edged Khurrum Nazir, but stumper Russell Bradley failed to hold the catch, and Shah drove Nazir’s next ball to the boundary for a precious win.
Rain had prevented any play at the scheduled start and, when play was possible at 2-50 p.m., 16 overs were lost to the weather.
Haslingden won the toss and asked Nelson to bat first. and captain Thomas Lord was Stuart Lemon’s surprise opening partner.
The ruse worked, initially, as Nelson sped to 27 without loss from the first four overs. Both batsmen hit sixes in that spell, but their stand was broken when Lemon (18) was run out by a direct hit on the stumps from the boundary edge.
Nelson’s new professional, New Zealander Luke Woodcock, played a responsible innings, trying to judge the pace of the wicket, and he found the boundary three times in making 21 before he was caught on the boundary edge.
Lord was also out for 21 when a lofted drive gained too much height and not enough distance.
David Crotty also got a start but failed to build on it as he was caught and bowled for 18.
Just when it was it was hoped to pile on the runs in the final seven overs, Nelson lost four wickets in adding only 28 and a sudden downpour curtailed the final over.
Haslingden came out to bat 33 minutes later, having lost another over, with their target reduced by four runs.
Richard Meade had great difficulty finding direction and he conceded 25 runs in his two overs before being replaced by Woodcock.
Haslingden raced to 46 within seven overs, but young Toqir Hussain came into the attack and had Kershaw smartly caught at short mid-wicket with his first ball.
Woodcock immediatelysnapped up Lee Ingham for a duck and Nelson were back in the game.
The dangerous Graeme Knowles soon followed, caught at slip, for the match top score of 31 and when Gary Sudworth was smartly stumped by Bradley, the score was 60-4.
Phil Hayes, the home professional, and Muneeb Ahmed swung the match back in favour of Haslingden again as they put together a stand of 38.
Both batsmen fell with the score on 98, Hayes to a narrow run out decision and Ahmed to a brilliant slip catch by Nazir.
Nazir, himself, grabbed a couple of wickets and Woodcock claimed his fifth scalp as he enjoyed a 5-34 spell.
Runs kept coming though until the stage when four runs were required with only one wicket to fall.
Nelson had their chance but were punished the very next ball.
Nelson then went to their fifth successive defeat on Sunday at home to Bacup.
Bacup won the toss and decided to bat first on a wicket that deteriorated as the match progressed.
Towards the end of the Nelson innings, the ball was lifting off a length, causing the later batsmen all sorts of problems.
At the beginning of the match, Meade bowled well and claimed early wickets, having opener Jack McGregor caught for 0 in the first over and clean bowling Bacup’s professional Jon-Jon Smuts in the ninth over for 28.
Meade also claimed the wickets of Taylor and Butcher before being rested in favour of Nazir who made short work of Bacup’s tail.
Nazir had 3-17 (all lbw decisions) whilst Kiwi Woodcock also chipped in with three wickets.
Nelson had a modest target of 123 to win, but were soon struggling as half the side were out by the 12th over.
Stuart Lemon hit a bright and breezy 21, but Lord (8), Woodcock (3), Crotty (6) and Neil Thompson (0) were all back in the pavilion with only 41 runs on the board.
Sean Lemon and Nazir dug themselves in and, slowly but surely, added 55 for the sixth wicket.
Smuts, with his slow left-arm spin, bowled seven successive maidens, effectively blocking one end up completely.
Andrew Spencer was introduced in to the attack at the other end and Lemon immediately smacked him for two welcome boundaries, but a simple catch to Smuts proved to be the beginning of the end.
Nazir was adjudged to be lbw in the next over and Nelson’s tail failed to wag
The score collapsed from 96-5 to 103 all out in the space of seven overs.
Nelson will be hoping that opening batsman, Peter Dibb, will have recovered from a broken finger in time for the derby against Colne.
Nelson seconds, meanwhile, have won five out of five!
Against Haslingden on Saturday they bowled their opponents out for 88, as Steve Eardley took 5-33 and Colin Pemberton 5-20.
Nelson reached their revised total of 78 with two wickets down, with Chris Heap unbeaten on 34.
Then against Bacup, the locals posted 246-7, with Chris Willan (73) and James Lickess (40) in the runs.
Bacup were all out for 148 in reply as Shabaz Ahmed took 4-37 and Pemberton 4-40.