A 63rd-minute strike from Kieran Molloy completed a great comeback from 2-0 down for Prestwich Heys in an afternoon of high drama at the Arcoframe Stadium, home of Pilkington FC on Saturday, writes Rick Barrett.

On this, the final day of the league season, Heys still had an outside chance of making the play offs if Kendal Town were to lose at Burscough and they bettered Chadderton's result who were playing West Didsbury and Chorlton.

Joint managers Lee O'Brien and James Hampson, who announced on Friday they would be leaving the club at the end of the season, made a couple of changes from Thursday's 6-0 thrashing by Charnock Richard with Russ Saunders returning in goal and Nathan Emery at full back with Kyle Jacobs being given the captains armband in place of the injured Aaron Chalmers.

Despite a bright start Heys found themselves two goals down in the first twenty five minutes the first of which came from Harry Holness, breaking down the right, whose shot beat Saunders at the near post on twelve minutes, This was followed by a penalty, awarded for a foul just inside the box, which was converted by Freddy Garbutt and it was all starting to look bleak for the visitors.

Heys pressed on though with nothing to lose as the two-goal deficit seemed to take the pressure off and they started to knock the ball around well. Matt Davies and Gabriel Mooney-Munoz both had shots that went wide as did Nathan Emery on thirty-three minutes.

Gabriel Mooney-Munoz then dipped one over the bar shortly after and Molloy fired one in across the box that no one could steer home. It was all Heys and finally they were rewarded on forty minutes when a ball in deep was converted home from six yards by Brad Sullivan, firing past Pilkington keeper Jake Hilton.

Momentum was gathering and shortly before half time they were level with winger Kieran Molloy down the right smashing one in bottom left from twelve yards to send the large travelling Heys support wild, especially as news was now filtering through that scores in the other games were going for them. Heys almost had a third in added time as Sullivan was denied by a stunning close range save by Hilton.

So, 2-2 at half time but Heys needed to win and came out after the break in vibrant mood. Jacobs fired over on the hour and then on sixty three minutes a lovely through ball found Molloy, who latched on and slotted past Hilton from ten yards to put Heys 3-2 up in this terrific turnaround.

Prestwich kept at it. Davies and Mooney-Munoz firing over and the pair of them linked up well on eighty minutes and when the latter’s shot was blocked it rebounded to Fitzgerald who fired over.

Fitzgerald did have the ball in the net for the visitors on the stroke of full time, but the referee gave a foul on keeper Hilton in what was a 50/50 challenge, and this turned out to be the final action of the afternoon.

So, it was a case of job done for Heys but with Kendal drawing 2-2 at Burscough and gaining the point was they needed to take the all-important fifth and final place on goal difference for the play offs it wasn't to be a final hurrah for the departing management team.

Football is a game of fine margins and Prestwich Heys just came up short in the 23-24 season, as one of four team locked on eighty points, but what a rollercoaster ride it was.

TEAM: Russell Saunders, Jacob Ngoy, Nathan Emery, Pa Jenkins, Kyle Jacobs, Sam Olawumi, Kyle Jacobs (Capt.), Gabriel Mooney-Munoz, Connor Brotherton, Brad Sullivan, Matt Davies, Kieron Molloy Subs: Saidkhon Khamidov, Rio Wilson-Heyes (for Jenkins 77 mins), Dan Silver Adigun, Harvey Roberts (for Molloy 79 mins), Dylan Fitzgerald (for Sullivan 75 mins)