A 66th-minute strike by James Dwyer secured a point to take Prestwich Heys into the top four of the North West Counties First Division North after a 1-1 draw at Chadderton on Saturday.

Heys were playing for the first time since their last victory on October 31 versus Garstang and were looking to continue the winning start of three wins and one defeat from just the four games played in this disrupted season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The visitors started quickly. A 20-yard shot from James Dwyer in the second minute was easily collected by Chadderton keeper Harrison Fleet, followed shortly after by striker Jack Coop seeing his lob over the keeper just go over the bar.

Chadderton settled and went in front on 14 minutes when Arron Scholes, watched by his dad the Manchester United great Paul, fired in a 25-yard shot which flew into the top left of Heys keeper Russell Saunders’ goal giving him absolutely no chance.

Matt Barnes’ side responded though and Alfie Belcher was only denied a good chance by a superbly-timed tackle from Chadderton captain Jordan Schofield before Anthony Potts headed just wide from a corner and midfielder Max White shot over the bar.

Conditions were deteriorating at the start of the second but Heys wasted no time in getting going, as just a minute in some great work by White found Jamie Roe whose effort was only just wide.

Further pressure from Heys came on the hour when a great throughball from Coop put Belcher through one-on-one but his effort was blocked after some hesitation.

Former Heys man Cory Knight then dragged a shot wide of Saunders’ left-hand post but in the 66th minute Barnes’ men were level.

Midfielder Dwyer drove through the middle and slotted past the on-coming keeper Fleet for a well-deserved equaliser and set the game up for an exciting finale.

Belcher had a couple of chances, bringing a save from the home keeper in the 69th minute after smashing a shot in from the edge of the box, and then dragging a 20-yard shot wide in the 83rd minute, continuing the Heys onslaught.

In between this Saunders had made a brilliant save diving low to his right from a header from Scholes, which whilst the linesman flagged the Chadderton player offside, the Heys keeper was not aware of this.

With the rain driving and the clock running down it was a frantic final few minutes with Heys piling on the pressure.

Dwyer brought a superb save from Fleet, tipping his shot over the bar, and from the resulting corner the post was rattled and Coop brought down, but despite the Heys contingent in this 132-crowd baying for a penalty the referee quickly waved all appeals.

In the dying moments Heys and Coop did have the ball in the net but the linesman correctly flagged for offside in the final action of the afternoon.

Heys’ game at Bacup on Boxing Day has been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions. They next welcome AFC Darwen on January 2, 3pm kick-off.