NELSON put defeats to Abbey Hey and Atherton Collieries behind them as they came from behind to earn a point in a 2-2 draw against Rochdale Town on Tuesday night.
Boosted by the return of Ralph Welch for Antony Field, and Tom Anderton replacing Warren Beattie in the line-up, Nelson started brighter than their hosts. However, they were initially frustrated as both Ashley Higgins and Welch wasted good opportunities after being put through on goal.
But in the 11th minute their pressure told as Higgins broke clear and lobbed Rochdale Town keeper Ryan Howley to give the Blues the lead.
Nelson kept up the pressure, with three corners in quick succession, but they soon found themselves pegged back.
Rochdale’s Nick Murphy eluded the Nelson defence and delivered a carbon-copy of Higgins’ effort, chipping Nathan Worrell to bring the sides level after 16 minutes.
Nelson responded well with Welch and Nat Taylor finding success down the flanks but they were unable to fashion any real chances.
The Blues made two changes for the second half with Michael Pilkington replacing Worrell in goal and Danny Johnson on for Adam Stockdale in defence.
Captain Chris Turner nearly put Nelson back in front but his snap shot lacked any real power, and he then conceded a free kick, and Chris Jepson brought the best out of Pilkington.
Despite the keeper’s best efforts he was unable to keep Nelson level moments later as a lofted ball over the Nelson defence found Nick Murphy who beat him with ease.
This time it was Nelson who needed to force their way back into the game and Turner delivered on the hour. He received the ball in the area, spun his marker and fired past Howley to equalise.
Both teams went looking for the winner but apart from a Welch shot that Howley did well to tip round the post, neither looked likely to take the three points.
A draww proved the perfect tonic after a disappointing showing at the weekend.
Blues boss Mark Fell made wholesale changes to his side that faced Atherton Collieries in a bid to bounce back from the 5-1 thrashing against Abbey Hey.
Debutants Beattie, Anthony Field and Andrew Naylor stepped in to the starting XI alongside Lee Botham at the expense of Brandon Barski, Adnan Ahmed, Matt Fearon and Anderton.
However, Fell’s game plan took an instant hit when Gareth Peet fired a free kick past an unsighted Worrell in only the second minute.
The hosts took time to find their rhythm at Victoria Park, and even when Naylor had a sight of goal his effort lacked any power or conviction. Tom Murphy’s deep cross from the left just eluded Ashley Higgins, before Anthony Field, threaded through by skipper Turner, blazed over.
Both sides proved wasteful from set-pieces, Higgins failed to trouble Carl Williams after crafting space and Mitchell Leece was thwarted by a superb save by Worrell who dived at his feet to smother the effort. However, just after the half-hour mark the visitors doubled their advantage as Peet grabbed his second of the First Division fixture when his shot beat a despairing dive by Worrell.
Atherton’s direct approach continued to trouble the home side and matters soon became worse when Paul Atherton’s header brushed off Botham’s head and in to the net.
After a disappointing first half showing, the Blues made a much livelier start to the second half with the introduction of Liam Hutchinson. Beattie headed over from Tom Murphy’s corner, Higgins over ran the ball after bursting through the visiting rearguard, while Hutchinson’s pull back from the by-line flashed past the Nelson forwards.
Naylor also threatened to reduce the arrears as his shot was deflected wide for a corner but despite their efforts they couldn’t break down a resolute defence, in which 42-year-old Steve Rothwell played his part.
In the final minute, Naylor’s cross found substitute Max Jones unmarked at the far post but he opted to head across goal rather than attempt to find the target.
Nelson are at Formby tomorrow.