New signing saves Nelson at death with late leveller

Matt O'Neill makes a vital goalline clearance
Matt O'Neill makes a vital goalline clearance

Nelson retained fifth place in the NWCFL Premier Division after new signing Kieran Walmsley struck a stunning last-minute equaliser against Squires Gate on Saturday.

The Blues - playing in white - were without the suspended Peter Wright and injured duo George Melling and Ben Hoskin, but introduced Walmsley in defence after his arrival from Kendal Town.

Both sides made a tentative start on a heavy pitch, but when the opening goal came, on 16 minutes, the visitors went ahead against the run of play.

A cross from the right led to a scramble in the box, and Brett Ferguson tapped in at the back post.

Paul Fildes saw his effort charged down at the other end as the Admirals continued to enjoy plenty of possession, without creating any real clear chances.

Midway through the half, Dan Mahoney’s corner was flicked on by Joe O’Neill, but brother Ed O’Neill headed over at the far post.

However, as the pressure began to build, the Blues hauled themselves level five minutes before half-time when Dom Mahoney picked up a flick from Matty O’Neill, and his centre was converted by Ed O’Neill, firing into the corner of the net.

In Squires Gate’s next attack, Andy Mason was adjudged to have fouled Mark Buchan in the box, and a penalty was awarded.

Alex Murphy took the spot kick, only for Ben Woodhead to block, but the rebound was hammered home to give the visitors a half-time lead.

Nelson started the second half on the front foot, Joe O’Neill heading wide from a cross from Ed O’Neill, while Fildes turned his marker and looped a shot narrowly over.

Fildes was replaced by 17-year-old debutant Mamoke Akaunu to add height to the attack, but Gate extended their lead in a rare break, as Murphy made it 3-1.

Jonny Hession replaced Ed O’Neill, and with 10 minutes remaining, Akaunu made a dream start for the Blues, converting a left wing cross, looping the ball over Ben Fletcher.

Nelson pushed for the equaliser, and Joe O’Neill and Hession had efforts cleared off the line.

Woodhead was even sent forward for a corner, but in the dying seconds, another Nelson corner was half-cleared to Walmsley, and from fully 30 yards he struck a brilliant volley in off the crossbar.

Nelson are back in action tomorrow when they host Maine Road, kick-off 3 p.m. at Victoria Park.