Maine Road 1 Nelson 1
Report of match 8th August 2009
Reporter Dave Priestley
A great strike by Nelson's Ashley Higgins earned the Blues a share of the points in their opening fixture in the Vodkat North West Counties League Premier Division against Maine Road on Saturday.
Nelson fought out a goal-less first half in which both sides produced some good attacking play without finding the target. After just five minutes, Chris Ogunyode saw his well struck volley flash wide of the far post following a half clearance from a Nelson corner. And just two minutes later, Ashley Higgins made a good run through the home defence but pulled his shot wide of the goal.
As play swung to the other end, it was Higgins who got in a good tackle to rob Steve Cheetham as he homed in on a defence-splitting pass on the edge of the Nelson penalty area. And Anthony Young made a series of good headers out of his own goalmouth from high crosses. After 19 minutes, Nelson keeper Chris Thompson made a great save to turn Neil Chappell's header over his crossbar.
As Nelson counter-attacked, Anthony Young saw his shot blocked in the Maine Road goalmouth and Sam Heap was just off target with a good effort.
Nelson began the second half in a positive mood and Luke Hargreaves was just wide with a 25 yard shot before Sam Heap slipped clear of the home defence only to be narrowly beaten to the ball by the hesitant keeper.
After 54 minutes, Maine Road left back Lee McGregor was left unmarked as he moved forward to blast a powerful shot which was fortunately just wide of the Nelson goal with keeper Chris Thompson at full stretch. Three minutes later, Luke Mack gave Maine Road the lead when he curled a shot over Thompson and just under the bar.
Nelson fought back but found the home defence difficult to break down with Richard Gresty winnng most of the balls in the air. But, as the Blues brought on subs Michael Cheetham and Marvin Bonny and switched their formation, they became more effective as an attacking force and put the home goal under pressure. A series of good chances came as Bonny glanced a header just wide of the Maine Road goal and Cheetham was only just off target with a shot on the turn inside the home penalty area.
After 79 minutes, Anthony Young's chip forward was headed on by John Luker and found Ashley Higgins on the right wing. Higgins took the chance on the half volley and blasted a swerving shot across goal into the far top corner for the Nelson equaliser.
The play was end to end in the remaining ten minutes and the Nelson defence produced some great tackles to deny the home side while, at the other end, Sam Heap's header flew just wide of the home goal from a chance provided by Luke Hargreaves on the left wing.