Blues have mixed start to campaign

Nelson FC Manager Mark Fell during the game against AFC Darwen.'Photo Ben Parsons
Nelson FC Manager Mark Fell during the game against AFC Darwen.'Photo Ben Parsons
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Nelson’s opening day win against Runcorn Town was marred by controversy just three days later in the 3-2 defeat to Abbey Hey at Victoria Park.

The Blues thrashed Runcorn Town 4-0 at the Pavilions Sports Complex courtesy of a brace from Adam Nuttall while Andrew Bell and Paul Fildes completed the scoring.

But Mark Fell’s side were cruelly denied a point on home soil on their second outing of the campaign. Having fought back from a three-goal deficit, skipper Peter Wright’s stoppage time strike was ruled out by the linesman’s flag. The club later confirmed, having seen replays of the incident, that four players were playing the Admirals’ striker onside.

Town were the first to probe in Cheshire with goalkeeper Tom Hunt called upon to tip Sam Houghton’s fierce drive around the post.

Nuttall’s effort flashed past the upright as the visitors responded but the winger went one better moments later when meeting Bell’s deep cross at the back post to head Nelson in to the lead.

After a defensive re-shuffle, caused by injury to Phil Doughty and the introduction of debutant Pavel Vieira, the Blues went on to double their advantage before the interval. Wright fed Bell who strode in to the area and beat Daniel Lever with ease.

The away side extended their lead just before the hour when Nuttall latched on to Bell’s incisive, diagonal pass to net his second of the fixture when bending an effort in to the top corner.

Nelson went on to survive a succession of corners from the hosts before scoring their fourth with a minute of normal time remaining.

You could’ve forgiven Nuttall for being selfish in search of his hat-trick when bursting in to the area but the man of the match found Fildes to his left and the substitute swept the ball beneath Lever.

The Blues were on a high, but they were soon brought back down to earth with a bump.

Ashford Blake beat Hunt with a looping header from Jonathan Hardy’s centre just after the quarter-of-an-hour mark to give the away side the lead on Lomeshaye Way. And they made it 2-0 just 10 minutes later as Andrew Smith towered above his marker to guide a header past Hunt from Hardy’s corner.

Things then went from bad to worse seven minutes in to the second half when Nuttall was adjudged to have fouled Danny Hewitt inside the box and Justin Pickering made no mistake from the spot.

The home side gave themselves a lifeline with an immediate response when defender Ricky Mercer powered a header home to make it 3-1.

With the visitors rattled, Nelson pressed, and Dave Sherlock scored his first goal for the club with a glorious volley that fizzed through a crowded penalty area before finding the net.

Sherlock had a goal ruled out for offside in the 72nd minute as Nelson searched for the equaliser while Blake hit the bar at the other end as Abbey Hey broke.

Nelson thought they had that leveller deep in to injury time but the linesman inexplicably ruled otherwise and the hosts were left empty handed.