WITH the North West Counties League on hold until December 19, Prestwich Heys took on Avro in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Vestacare Stadium, losing 4-2.

After a month out of action, it was a chance for manager Matt Barnes to get his players together again and get some valuable playing time in the bank before the hoped-for return to action.

Heys showed few signs of any rustiness early on and marked an enterprising start by taking an eighth-minute lead through Joe Rothwell.

Avro, currently fifth in the NWCL Premier Division, came back into the game and levelled in the 18th minute when a Kane Wallwork free-kick was well blocked by Russell Saunders, but the ball fell to Jack Morrow who scored from a yard out.

However, Heys responded well and regained the lead in the 25th minute. Good work by Jack Coop, saw him cut into the area before squaring the ball for the incoming Nathan Emery, whose shot wrong-footed the keeper, to find its way into the back of the net.

Heys continued to have the better of things, taking their lead into the half-time break.

However, it was Avro who came out the stronger on the restart and within a minute they were back on level terms.

As the ball was played into the box, Oumar Camara saw his shot blocked but he was presented on the rebound with a second bite of the cherry to make it all square.

Whatever Lee O’Brien said at the half-time break was working wonders for his team as they took the lead three minutes later with Camara striking again, this time from the penalty spot.

Only a goal line clearance prevented Heys falling further behind and it was not until the hour mark that they were to pose any threat with Jacob Holt getting a header on target and then Coop firing over.

However, it was the home side who were asking all the questions against a weary looking Heys and they increased their lead in the 73rd minute with a superb finish into the bottom corner from Martin Pilkington.

Emery saw a shot deflected wide in the closing stages but there was to be no way back for Heys who were never able to build on their first-half showing.

Nonetheless, Barnes will have taken much from the first half showing and will have been pleased to get 90 minutes under the belt as he prepares his players for the hoped for restart which, if restrictions allow, will be at Chadderton on December 19.