RADCLIFFE made their two-division advantage count with a friendly win against Prestwich Heys at the Neuven Stadium on Tuesday night.

Matt Barnes’ men emerged with plenty of credit though as both sides kept busy after the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The hosts went in front in the third minute as Matty Crothers smashed in a volley from the edge of the box.

Heys, however, responded well and in the 17th minute. Jamie Ramwell was played through but Radcliffe keeper Cam Belford came out brilliantly to block the shot.

The visitors didn’t have to wait long for their goal though as from the ensuing corner Heys levelled with Jacob Holt firing home after a bout of pinball in the Radcliffe box.

The hosts responded forcefully as Luca Navarro fired just wide before then bringing a great save from Heys keeper Russell Saunders in the 22nd minute, thwarting the Radcliffe man one-on-one.

Radcliffe continued to hold the upper hand as Tom Miller headed just over from a Crothers free-kick on the half hour.

The pressure told in the 36th minute when Radcliffe regained the lead. Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro danced into the box before slotting the ball into the bottom corner.

But Heys ended the half in positive fashion as Jack Coop  rifled a shot towards the far corner, but with the keeper beaten his effort went just wide.

As in the first half Radcliffe were quick out of the blocks from the restart and in the 48th minute scored a third goal, Kole Hall breaking clear of the Heys defence to score.

The spirit in the Heys side remained undiminished however, and they pulled a goal back in the 52nd minute.

A great through ball by Alfie Belcher opened the home defence up to release Coop, who went through, rounded the keeper and converted.

However, on the hour the match turned decisively in Radcliffe’s favour as they added a fourth when Akpa-Akpro nodded home.

Three times in eight minutes Heys ‘keeper Saunders then excelled to prevent the hosts adding to their lead. He first pulled off a great save with his legs after a deflected shot on goal before then twice keeping out Hall. And in the 81st minute the crossbar kept out a header before being claimed by Saunders.

At the other end Coop went close from 25 yards before Radcliffe added a fifth goal five minutes from time.

 Akpa-Akpro this time turned provider as he found a trialist who headed home to complete the scoring.

Prestwich have set up a series of friendlies having been forced to cancel their own Heys Invitational Cup due to late logistical issues.

Boss Barnes has been keen to get his players some game time having not played since the end of December.

Prior to the Radcliffe game, Heys 1-1 drew at Bootle on Saturday and won 2-0 at Winsford United last week, Coop getting all three goals.

After the Boro defeat, Heys are this Saturday, April 24, back on home soil at Adie Moran Park when North West Counties Premier Division side Charnock Richard are the visitors.

They then welcome Ashton United of the NPL Premier Division on April 27, head to NWCFL Premier Division side Longridge Town on May 1 before completing the friendly programme at home against near neighbours Walshaw Sports on May 8.

All the games will be played behind closed doors.