Curtis Nelson: I didn't know what to do after scoring
STAND-IN striker Curtis Nelson celebrated his first goal for Plymouth Argyle in the 3-2 victory over Northampton Town at Home Park on Saturday.
But the 19-year-old, usually a defender for the Pilgrims, insisted the win – and the three points – were more important to him than scoring.
Argyle had trailed 1-0 at half-time, before hitting back with goals from Warren Feeney and substitute Rhys Griffiths, on his debut.
However, Griffiths had to be substituted because of the recurrence of a calf injury. Surprisingly, manager Carl Fletcher sent on Nelson, rather than any of three wingers on the bench, to partner Feeney in attack.
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But the bold decision was rewarded when Nelson headed home his first goal for Argyle in his 65th appearance.
Left-back Robbie Williams provided a superb cross for Nelson to attack and he powered the ball past Northampton keeper Lee Nicholls and into the net.
Nelson told Herald Sport: “I ran over to the fans to celebrate, but I didn’t know what to do.
“It felt very good, and I was happy, but it doesn’t really matter that I scored. We got the three points we wanted, and that’s the main thing.
“It doesn’t matter who scores, or how it goes over the ball, as long as it’s a goal and we win the game.”
Nelson soared above Northampton’s experienced centre-back David Artell to send his header over Nicholls from 12 yards.
“It was a great ball from Willo,” said Nelson, who made his Argyle debut in August 2010. “He has got a sweet left peg. He has always got the quality there. I saw the keeper come off his line, out the corner of my eye. I didn’t really put any direction on the ball I just headed it.”
Nelson had started all of Argyle’s previous five matches this season – the first four at right-back and the fifth in the centre of defence.
But the return to fitness of captain Darren Purse saw the former England under-18 international on the substitutes’ bench against Northampton. However, Nelson got his chance to be involved when Griffiths was taken off, and made the most of it.
He said: “If you are on the bench, you have got to be ready to go on the pitch. That’s why you are there.”
Nelson admitted he had been surprised to be asked by Fletcher to play as a striker, but was up for the task.
He said: “I was like, ‘Okay, I don’t mind doing it. Just get me on the pitch’. I didn’t know Griff was struggling.”
The only time Nelson could ever recall playing as a striker before Saturday was in the closing stages of the Capital One Cup tie at Burnley last Tuesday.
Nelson had been pushed forward then as Argyle chased a late equaliser.
Asked about his role as a stand-in striker against Northampton, Nelson replied: “It was enjoyable, to be fair. It’s a different perspective on the game.”
Nelson sympathised with Griffiths over his injury-enforced exit from the match.
He said: “Griff is as great player. Hopefully, scoring will give him a confidence boost. It’s a shame he had to come off so soon.
“He has got the look of a goalscorer about him, but you got to give credit to Feeney as well. He scored a good header.
“I think the team played much better in the second half. Generally, we came out of the traps and hit them hard.”
Argyle had picked up only one point from three league games before the visit of Northampton. So when they conceded the opening goal, scored by Alex Nicholls in the 26th minute, it was a test of character for them.
But the Pilgrims responded to the challenge as they secured their first league win of the season.
Nelson said: “Three points is always top of the list of things to do on a Saturday come three o’clock.”
Now Argyle can prepare with confidence for their trip to Devon rivals Torquay United this coming weekend.
Nelson said: “There is always a buzz about derbies, but it doesn’t matter who you are playing against, whether it’s Torquay, Manchester United or anyone, you have got to be going there with a mentality to win.”