PRESTWICH HEYS 2 AFC DARWEN 1
NWCFL First Division North
I think every hopper has clubs that they prefer to go to for a variety of reasons. A really warm welcome. Ease of getting there. Exciting football. Well, Heys tick all three of those boxes for me.
Since their promotion to the NWCFL in 2016 I have been here five times. Five victories for Heys. 24 goals for and 6 against, almost averaging out at a 5-1 home win. I have been long overdue a return. With a new manager at the helm, Heys are in a mid-table battle with a few clubs (including their opponents on the day, AFC Darwen) where a nice little run is potentially going to have them in the promotion race.
I arrived at Adie Moran Park after a short walk from the Metrolink and was pleased to notice that we were joined by Assistant Referee Kat McEvoy, one of the rare Female Officials that can be spotted in these parts.
With the game underway it looked like the visitors who were the sharper of the sides and so it proved when they took the lead just shy of the 10 minutes mark. Heys playing the ball around at the back, keeper Simpson was put under pressure and his pass miss-hit giving Creech a chance, his low shot was well saved by the stopper, but he couldn’t prevent Edwards from slamming home the loose rebound. 0-1.
The next 15 minutes or so were a battle of wills, both sides trying to gain the upper hand, the change in the game came with Heys swapping their wingers, when Shawcross and Hill moved to their more natural sides they caused problems. Suddenly full-backs were being beaten. Crosses were coming in. An equaliser was inevitable. Surely? It came just after the half hour mark and from a cross. After more home pressure, Shawcross swung in a deep cross and the ball as if being remote controlled was too high for Stone’s grasp, hit the top of the far upright and nestled into the back of the net. 1-1.
Half-time came too soon for the hosts as they continued to press. After the break, the battle for supremacy was reset. The visitors had moments. Back would come Heys. Midway through the half Darwen had the ball in the net. Offside.
With 15 minutes remaining the ball was in the net again. AFC Darwen’s. This time it counted. This was the winner. A corner on the right swung in to the far post by Shawcross. Out of Stone’s grasp and met by Bellamy, Heys’ defender, his header hit the back of the net. 2-1. Cue celebrations. Whilst the defenders run, timing and header were spot on, his knee-slide was poor!
Heys won. The moved above AFC Darwen into 10th, just 8 points off a promotion place and they have a game in hand. They might just make it.
Moment of the Match: I don’t normally do this, but I would like to use this bit for a ‘Man of the Match’. Heys’ number 4 Rothwell. Starting as a holding midfielder, his protection was good, reading of the game excellent. Moving further forward later, his engine was incredible. A joy to watch.
Match Tunes: Original Pirate Material – The Streets