A 66th-minute strike by Lewis Richmond was enough for Padiham in a 1-0 defeat of Prestwich Heys in a tight game at the Ruby Civil Arena on Saturday, writes Rick Barrett.

Heys came in to this on the back of a 3-2 win over Glossop on Tuesday night while Padiham were unbeaten in the last nine games in all competitions.

It was the visitors who started the quicker with Ryley Smith testing Padiham keeper Matthew Hamnett in the seventh minute with a shot from eighteen yards and Matt Davies was also in the mix shortly after bringing a save from Hamnett from six yards.

Back came the hosts on twenty-three minutes with a free kick on the right which came over, but the linesman's flag was up for offside and back up the other end we saw Davies flick a header on to Smith who tried an adventurous overhead kick, straight into the keepers’ arms.

As the half progressed Heys were on top, but goalmouth action was few and far between as both teams were struggling to get the upper hand. On forty-one minutes, Heys Pa Jenkins was sin binned for something said to the referee.

So, after a scrappy first half one hoped for an improvement after the break, but it was another sin bin for the visitors on fifty-three minutes when Brad Sullivan headed to the bench for dissent.

Both teams were battling in midfield but on sixty-six minutes Padiham went ahead when a lapse in the Prestwich defence enabled Lewis Richmond to muscle in on the left and shoot bottom right past keeper Russ Saunders to take a lead few saw coming.

Padiham came close again on seventy-seven minutes with a shot Saunders managed to stick a foot out well to clear, but Heys rallied late on. Substitute James Hampson fired over on eighty-four minutes and Sullivan missed a great chance to snatch a point two minutes from time when a cross from Heys Man of the Match, Aaron Chalmers found him with a free header, six yards out, but agonisingly it went straight into keeper Hamnett’s arms.

The referee signalled seven minutes injury time as Prestwich continued to press forward and in the dying embers Hampson was through on the left, but his cross come shot was saved by the keeper as the referee blew the final whistle.

So, after recent fine form this was an off day for who struggled in the final third. But they battled hard throughout in a game that will not live long in the memory with plenty more points to fight for between now and the end of the season.

Team: Russ Saunders, Jacob Ngoy, Nathan Emery, Pa Jenkins, Nathan Bartram-Conway, Aaron Chalmers (Capt.), Rio Wilson-Heyes, Connor Brotherton, Brad Sullivan, Matt Davies, Ryley Smith Subs: Saidkhon Khamidov (for Emery 82 mins), Gabriel Mooney-Munoz (for Smith 57 mins), Danny White, Dan Silver-Adigun (for Bartram-Conway 84 mins), James Hampson (for Wilson-Heyes 75 mins)