SATURDAY’S match at Nelson felt more like a reunion of old friends as it was the fourth meeting between the sides in two months but the first at the Admirals’ home, Victoria Park, known locally as Little Wembley.
Such was the quality of the playing surface that ‘Little Wembley’ was not a misnomer and it was sure to suit Formby’s passing style.
The Squirrels were slow to get going. Inside the opening three minutes Joe Walker was guilty of giving the ball away to Suleman Hafeji who broke into the area.
However, Mikey White got across and won the ball cleanly. The rain had been unrelenting but, the occasional bit of aquaplaning aside, both teams were adjusting to the conditions well.
Formby took the lead on 29 minutes. A trademark long, arcing cross from the right flank by Mark Toohey found Mark Kirby unmarked at the far post. He headed the ball back across goal and it flew into the top corner of the net for his 10th league goal of the season.
Nelson’s forwards began to hold the ball up and as a result were more threatening. The troublesome Jerome Matthews broke clear and into the area but was forced wide by Lee Carroll. He kept the ball in play and turned it back to Hafeji. Paul Speed tried to take the ball from him but only succeeded in bringing Hafeji down. The referee instantly blew for a penalty and Matthews sent Lee Carroll the wrong way with his confident, almost impudently casual kick.
The equaliser appeared to rattle Formby as for the first time in the match Nelson looked the more likely team. However, the Squirrels regained the ascendancy and finished the half strongly.
Nelson started the second half the better of the two sides, having a goal ruled out for offside.
The hosts took the lead in the 57th minute as Jerome Matthews latched onto a pass and advanced towards the Formby area. He took the ball round Lee Carroll, kept his composure, took his time and placed the ball into the far corner of the goal.
Formby’s response was to switch to a 3-5-2 formation.
The effect was instantaneous as Formby took total control of the game playing a brand of fast, incisive, passing football reminiscent of their form at the start of the season. Nelson couldn’t get near the ball as Formby ramped up the pressure with breathless, precise intensity.
The Squirrels’ usual intelligent passing game seemed to be playing at double-speed and it felt like Nelson could barely keep track let alone respond.
It was only a matter of time – and clearly the wait would not be long – before the equalising goal.
Sure enough, Belger collected a cross from Shaun Chart and laid it into the path of Joe Walker whose swift shot beat Nathan Worrell. It was the third successive game Walker had scored in.
With 10 minutes left Connor Belger was replaced by pacy winger Kieron Brislen. However, the next opportunity fell to Nelson.
Matty Jones fouled Jerome Matthews right on the 18 yard line and was booked.
Nelson lined up the free-kick but were unable to beat the wall. In the last minute Matty Jones had a close range header tipped over the bar by Worrell. Gary Edwards was booked for a block on a Nelson player but neither side was able to find a winning goal.