A WILL Hatfield brace gave Accrington Stanley a battling 2-1 victory at North West Counties League Premier Division new boys Nelson.
James Beattie’s side had trailed to an early Gareth Peet goal but Hatfield levelled midway through the first half and his 34th minute strike proved to be the winner in a competitive clash.
It was the visitors who started the brighter at Victoria Park with James Gray twice testing home keeper Ben Woodhead inside the opening 10 minutes.
But the hosts took the lead when Peet raced clear and cooly slotted home.
The League Two side responded and just past the half hour Hatfield drove home a 20-yard effort to level the scores.
Five minutes later Hatfield was at it again when he converted Gray’s pass from close range.
The former Leeds United man nearly had a quickfire hat-trick but Woodhead denied him in the closing stages of the first half.
After the break the Reds continued to impress but sub James Jenkins saw his effort go over the bar.
Nelson continued to battle and skipper Robert Grimes and sub Josh Walne both forced saves out of Stanley trialist Iain Turner in the away goal.
At the other end Adam Buxton came close with a free kick before Jonty Maullin had Nelson’s last chance but saw his shot deflected behind and with it went the home side’s chances of a leveller.
Stanley assistant boss Paul Stephenson revealed he was pleased with his side’s attacking intent.
He said: “There was some great play at times in the first half.
“I thought we showed great patience with the ball and we had to because they weren’t particularly coming out and pressing and we got our rewards in the end.
“I’m really delighted with some of the attacking play.”