Nelson went down 4-1 at Prestwich Heys on Saturday, having taken an early lead.
But the final scoreline flattered their hosts on a day where the Admirals were resilient at the back, and produced some eye-catching football.
The Blues, second bottom in the North West Counties First Division, were up against a confident side unbeaten in eight games, but, for almost an hour, managed to frustrate second place Heys at a wet and windy Adie Moran Park.
Rio Wilson-Heyes had an opening for Heys within seconds of the kick-off as he slalomed through the Nelson defence but pulled his shot wide, and the Blues heeded the warning and won a couple of corners before going in front after 10 minutres.
Alberto Seidi surged down the left and centred for David Patrick to thump in a header.
Blues keeper Louis McCarthy made a stop from Jamie Baguley shortly after, but was otherwise well protected.
And the Admirals had the chance to double their lead midway through the first half when Seidi’s pace sent him clear, but he was denied by the legs of keeper Max Povey.
Heys responded, and after Wilson-Heyes fizzed a shot wide, he equalisied on the half hour, as he cut in and collected a pass to round McCarthy and finish.
McCarthy turned full back James Brooks’ long-range strike behind for a corner, as Nelson went in level.
The Blues looked to get their noses back in front in the second half, and a curler from James Wolfenden went just past the post.
But in the 53rd minute Heys took the lead. as captain Danny White’s daisy-cutter of a free kick somehow evaded McCarthy and crept in.
The hosts’ tails were up, and they killed the game in the final quarter with two goals in three minutes.
In the 69th minute, Alfie Belcher burst through and fed Lee Bruce, whose pull back was met by Baguley, who applied the finish.
That was quickly followed as Bruce and Mark Ayres went close, and Matt Grimshaw drilled in the rebound with the help of a deflection.
Nelson didn’t let their heads drop, and 15 minutes from time, Dalton Hutchinson attempted an audacious overhead kick, which promoted a superb save from Povey.
However, Heys could have added to their lead late on.
Nelson host Litherland REMYCA tomorrow.