United fend off fightback after racing into four-goal half-time lead
Peterborough League Premier Division top goalscorer Michael Nelson hammered a first-half hat-trick as Oakham won a topsy-turvy tussle with Sutton Bridge on Saturday.
Nelson’s treble took his season’s haul to 26 goals from 18 games as Oakham raced into a four-goal interval lead before staving off a second half fightback from their visitors who were eventually edged out 5-4.
It took Nelson just four minutes to break the deadlock as he raced onto a flick from David Bates before slotting home.
The lead was doubled 10 minutes later when Nelson made a searing run at the Sutton defence before unleashing a shot into the bottom corner.
A third Oakham goal arrived just ahead of the half-hour mark as a strong run into the box from Bates saw the ball break for Josh Gooding to apply a fine finish from the edge of the area.
Oakham, with the strong wind in their favour in the opening period, came close to increasing their tally as Kris Kefford saw a couple of long range efforts saved while Cameron Brookes was denied at close range after a Nelson flick.
Nelson then narrowly failed to connect with a cross to the far post before he completed his hat-trick in style two minutes before half-time.
The striker took control of a clearance from goalkeeper Usaama Yussuf before surging forward and then smashing a shot home from outside the area.
Yussuf then made a crucial fingertip save on the stroke of half-time to ensure Oakham held their four-goal advantage at the interval.
However, it took Sutton just seven minutes of the second period to reduce the deficit with a first-time shot into the far corner.
Oakham soon had a chance to restore their three-goal advantage when Nelson was bundled over in the box, but Cameron Brookes’ penalty was saved by the Sutton goalkeeper.
And the visitors then struck their second goal just after the hour mark following a neat move before Oakham responded with Brookes curling a shot over and Nelson being denied in a one-on-one.
Hussan made a fine save at the other end to deny Sutton as they broke through, but a couple of defensive errors then allowed the visitors free to score their third.
However, any hopes of the visitors making a stirring comeback were dashed with nine minutes remaining as Kefford’s long through ball was missed by the Sutton goalkeeper gifting Brookes with an easy tap-in.
There was still time for Sutton to add a fourth after 85 minutes, but Oakham steadied their ship for the final exchanges to secure the win which moved them up to ninth place on the back of being awarded a further three points after Long Sutton played an ineligible player in their December clash.
Joint manager Stewart Lambie commented: “It was definitely a game of two halves!
"We changed the formation in the first half. We pressed from the start and they just couldn't handle us going forward.
"I said in the changing room at half-time to go out and try and keep clean sheet, but nobody obviously listened because we made loads of mistakes.
"The wind did play a part, but it wasn't the main reason because we gifted them a couple of goals.
"We were all over the place defensively so went to a back five at the end to try and hang on and shut up shop.”
Oakham are at home again this Saturday when they host Tydd United.
Dan Jenkins and James North are both expected to return, but Josh Gooding and Luke Matts are unavailable after being called up to the Lincolnshire Under 18 squad.