Nelson 2 Garstang 1: Riversiders lose their first match in eight

Garstang's Josh Westwood went off with an ankle injury at Nelson
Garstang's Josh Westwood went off with an ankle injury at Nelson

Garstang were beaten 2-1 by Nelson FC on a day when the home side made the better use of the conditions in the second half to claim victory.

Lee Baker’s side had gone into the game, looking to extend their excellent unbeaten run to eight games.

The Nelson groundsman had performed miracles to get the game played with the centre of one half resembling a beach given the amount of sand that had needed to be used.

The rain started to fall as the game kicked and, as the half wore on, the pitch got progressively worse which made football very difficult for both sides.

Billy McKenna whipped in a number of good crosses which Garstang failed to capitalise upon but Ric Coar and Jake Salisbury did not enjoy particularly good service.

Nelson had a couple of good efforts at goal, one of which was brilliantly saved by Will Kitchen low down at his front post.

Josh Westwood was forced off with an ankle injury and was replaced by Cam Ross at centre-half before Garstang almost took the lead.

Coar was found by Salisbury inside the 18-yard box and, with his back to goal, Coar brilliantly turned his man and shot on the turn but his effort went agonisingly just the wrong side of goal.

Ross also had a header cleared off the line from a corner but the game remained very even and, at half-time, it was goalless.

At the restart, manager Baker made a tactical change as McKenna was replaced by Phil Nagy and Jack Swindlehurst pushed into midfield to give more impetus to the Garstang attacks.

This change seemed to give the Riversiders more attacking menace.

Salisbury and Coar were now starting to create problems and the home keeper was called into action on a number of occasions as Garstang looked the team most likely to break the deadlock.

The Riversiders eventually took the lead in the 60th minute when Salisbury chased down a long ball and shot home from just inside the box.

Coar then missed a great chance to kill off the game when he shot straight at the keeper from close range.

By this time, the rainfall was like a monsoon as the pitch turned into a mudbath with the game becoming a lottery for both sides.

Kitchen once again made two great saves, one of which was from a tremendous 30-yard effort that looked destined for the top corner.

Nelson equalised with 15 minutes remaining when a corner came in from their right-hand side and Gareth Hill headed in from close range.

With Garstang having the misfortune of defending the half which had become a quagmire, it was proving almost impossible to clear the ball out of the mud.

Tom Graham replaced Jack Bennett in midfield but Nelson used the appalling conditions to their advantage and closed down Garstang at every opportunity high up the pitch.

The pitch had now become unplayable, and with the clock ticking down, the home side scored the winner when Hill got free down the inside right channel and shot home past Kitchen.