10-MEN Prestwich Heys staged a second half fightback to extend their unbeaten League run to seven games with victory over Skelmersdale United at Adie Moran Park.

The home side were never at their best here and met some stubborn resistance form the NW Counties Premier Division’s bottom placed side. However, it was the visitors who took the lead, one they were to hold into the second half before Heys, reduced to ten men late in the first half for the dismissal of Kayle Power, rallied to claim a deserved win.

On a glorious Autumn afternoon, Heys kicked off with a side showing four changes from the side that had drawn at Barnoldswick Town in midweek, which included Brad Sixsmith returning to the starting line up to make his 150th appearance for the club.

The home side set off at a frantic pace and might have taken the lead with their first attack as Connor Berry broke down the right before crossing for Jack Coop who was denied an almost certain goal by a superb last-ditch block by the visitors.

Heys remained in the ascendancy, with Berry to the fore and he went close in the ninth minute, this time cutting in from the left, before firing a 25-yard shot just wide.

However, Skelmersdale showed increasing signs of warming into the task, as they settled into a defensive pattern that began to frustrate the home side, before in rare foray forward, they took the lead in the 17th minute. The goal came from the penalty spot, for a trip off the ball and from the spot kick Luke Byron slotted home.

It did seem at the time like it might be a minor inconvenience for Heys as they continued to dominate the possession with Berry firing wide and Matt Davies testing the keeper from the edge of the area. However, as the half progressed the home side looked increasingly like losing their way, as they floundered against a dogged Skem defence, Heys attacks became increasingly predictable and lacking a cutting edge.

On the stroke of half time came the dismissal of Power for a second bookable offence and moments later Kai Haigh was withdrawn after a collision to be replaced by Greg Daniels.

A further change came at the break with Bradley Sullivan replacing Darcy O’Connor and it was immediately clear that the half time team talk had injected extra urgency into Heys attacks.

Within two minutes of the restart Berry cut in from the right and fired low, with his shot taking a deflection, forcing the Skem keeper Ben Barnes to scramble to deny Davies a tap in.

Striker Rio Clegg made his long-awaited return from injury shortly after as Heys looked to maintain momentum and in the 57th minute they finally broke the visitor’s resistance. Awarded a free kick some 25 yards out, Davies fired low aiming for the bottom left corner and although Barnes got down well to save, he couldn’t hold onto the ball and as it broke, it was Daniels, onto it quick as a flash, to fire home from close range.

Suddenly, the mood changed, the visitors looking weary, the home side energised and the crowd increasingly vocal. Sullivan just cleared the bar with a shot from distance, as Heys pressed and in the 64th minute they took the lead.

From a free kick, midway in the Skem half, slightly to the right, Nathan Emery whipped in a dangerous cross and amongst a crowd of bodies it was the surging presence of Captain Aaron Chalmers who emerged to head home.

Heys looked to press home their advantage with Berry heading wide from a Saidkhon Khamidov cross and then Clegg had the ball in the net only for an offside flag to halt celebrations.

Man of the Match, Berry was then denied the goal his performance deserved when a vicious, dipping shot from the edge of the area smacked against the crossbar and to safety.

As the match edged to its conclusion the visitors threw off their defensive shackles and almost salvaged a draw when Mark Bollongino broke into the box and fired goalwards with his effort taking a deflection off Emery and onto the post.

It was a close shave for Heys, but ultimately, whilst not at their best, they were worthy of the three points that lifted them to eighth in the table and onto the tails of the leading pack.

TEAM: Jordan Hadlow, Brad Sixsmith, Nathan Emery, Darcy O’Connor, Jacob Ngoy, Aaron Chalmers, Connor Berry, Kai Haigh, Jack Coop, Matt Davies, Kayle Power Subs: Saidkhon Khamidov (for Davies 73 mins), Regan Brown, Greg Daniels (for Haigh 45 mins), Bradley Sullivan (for O’Connor 45 mins), Rio Clegg (for Coop 55 mins)