Heys bow out of Lancashire Trophy
By STEPHEN HOWARD
Bamber Bridge prove too strong
writes Scott White
Despite slipping to a 4-1 defeat, there was much for Heys to reflect well upon from a performance where they managed to compete for long spells against a good Bamber Bridge side three divisions higher than Prestwich.
Missing a cup-tied Adam Farrell, Heys put out a strong team for their toughest test of the season.
After a cagey opening, home fans might have feared the worst when Brig opened the scoring on nine minutes, a free-kick being deftly curled around the outside of the wall by Darren McKnight and beyond the outstretched arms of Mike Smith.
Heys struggled to find their feet but levelled three minutes later in fortuitous circumstances when Rio Wilson-Heyes created space for himself before unleashing a powerful shot, which cannoned off a defender before hitting one post and rolling into the net.
Smith was kept warm in the Heys goal on a chilly evening, a couple of shots keeping him on his toes.
There was more excitement two minutes late when Chris Baguley attempted an audacious chip, but Danny Roccia scrambled well to tip over, making amends for spilling the ball moments earlier.
Mark Ayres was booked on twenty-eight minutes, and at this stage, there was little between the teams, but you sensed that Brig had additional gears to click through.
From the half-hour point, Bamber Bridge began to crank up the pressure, playing some neat football and pressing the home defence back. On thirty-four minutes, this paid off when a tidy move was finished off my a solid header from Ali Waddecar
Lee Bruce had a great first half for Heys, his trademark bustling runs enabled Prestwich to create a platform to press the visitors, but Brig also had a couple of shooting chances of their own.
There was a worrying time for Heys as Lee Grimshaw bravely chased down a ball, and injured himself stretching, but happily, got up to return to the fray.
Jamie Baguley was booked shortly before the end of the half, and with time ticking down, a late opportunity for Heys saw a Chris Baguley free-kick pinged across the penalty area, but the final header on goal from the middle of a melee went wide.
No changes were made at half-time, but there was another stoppage in play whilst Mike Smith was treated for a knock, and on fifty-four minutes, Grimshaw finally hobbled off to be replaced by Mikey Itela.
Just before the hour, Wilson-Heyes got in a great cross that begged to be headed home, but there was no-one on hand to convert for Heys.
Soon afterwards, Jamie Baguley poked a neat ball through for Bruce, who shuffled his feet well before unleashing a fine effort that Danny Roccia saved well.
This was to be the last decent opportunity for Heys, and Bamber Bridge should have converted a chance three minutes when they twice shot at goal with Smith exposed.
With an action replay of the slow build-up to Brig’s second goal, the visitors extended their lead on sixty-eight minutes. Heys were left chasing shadows as the NPL team passed and moved their way to within sight of the Prestwich goal, a deep cross was met powerfully at the far post from Darren Forbes to make it 3-1.
Liam Healey then replaced Jamie Baguley, but Bamber Bridge were in the driving seat by this stage and should have increased their lead, causing confusion in the Heys box, but the final header rolled wide.
With just over ten minutes to go, Darren McKnight got his second goal of the tie, again direct from a free-kick that whistled into the top corner.
That was the last real action of the game, and of Heys’ LFA Challenge Trophy exploits for another season, but the tie did give Heys the opportunity to see the level they should aspire to in the coming seasons.
Heys Line-up: 1. Mike Smith 2. Jacob Holt. 3. Carl Fitton 4. Dom Slaven 5. Mark Ayres 6. Jacob Wood 7. Rio Wilson-Heyes 8. Jamie Baguley 9. Lee Bruce 10. Chris Baguley 11. Lee Grimshaw Subs: 14. Liam Healey (for Jamie Baguley) 17. Mikey Itela (for Lee Grimshaw