ANDREW NELSON kept Darlington’s survival hopes alive by coming off the bench to win the game against Buxton.

The former Sunderland striker admitted that he was at fault for not taking a couple of chances in the 2-0 defeat at Boston on Tuesday night, but he made up for that setback by setting up the equaliser and scoring the winner to put Quakers five points adrift of safety with an away game coming up at Curzon Ashton on Tuesday night.

He changed the mood around the ground from despondency after Scott Barrow put through his own goal in the first half to one of renewed hope of getting out of the relegation zone, which is now a battle between seven clubs.

Manager Steve Watson, who has now won four games out of ten in charge of Quakers, said; “I was really pleased for Nella. He’s had a little barren spell, but he’s always getting into good positions. He had chances the other night at Boston and didn’t quite get the ball in. Scoring the winner was big for him, and big for us.

“I thought we played really well in the first half. There was a mistake which happens in football – we always seem to get punished when we make mistakes. We went into half-time a goal down and not quite sure how.

“There wasn’t a lot to change. We still believed that if we kept playing and moving Buxton in the way that we did, we’d create more chances. We didn’t flight balls into their box against two centre-halves, instead we fizzed the balls in and got the equaliser from it.

“I thought if we put three strikers on the pitch that would make their full-backs tuck in, which they did, and that allowed us to get even more joy around the sides.”

Quakers have been creating more chances in recent games, and they nearly took the lead in the third minute when Jarrett Rivers put Cedric Main through, but he fired into the side-netting.

Matty Cornish, who had another good game in midfield, crossed for Rivers to head wide from six yards, and Ben Hedley had two shots saved by Buxton keeper Joe Young.

But Buxton took the lead after 34 minutes when Young’s long clearance bounced just outside the Darlington area, and Barrow headed past the advancing Matty Young into his own net, even though the keeper seemed to shout.

They nearly got a second just before the break when the giant Jake Hull headed a left-wing corner towards goal, and somehow Kallum Griffiths headed the ball off the line.

Quakers’ heads didn’t drop though. They kept their composure in the second half and nearly levelled soon after the break, when Mitch Curry got to the byline and pulled the ball back for Matty Cornish to fire towards the bottom corner, but somehow a defender stuck his toe out and stopped a certain goal.

Quakers had all the pressure at this point with nothing to show for it, so Watson sent on Nelson for Ben Hedley on 65 minutes.

Within four minutes, it had paid off when Nelson flicked on a Ben Liddle corner at the near post, and Curry came in and tapped the ball home from a yard for his fifth goal of the season.

They got the winner on 82 minutes, when Griffiths’ cross from the right was headed away by a defender only as far as Nelson, who fired first time into the bottom corner for his first goal since August.

It was then a matter of defending for the remainder of the game, which they did quite well, although a Buxton free-kick with everybody up in the fifth minute of stoppage time didn’t help the frayed nerves of the 1,224 fans.