Bruce and Ayres strikes pave way for Heys victory
By STEPHEN HOWARD
First half goals give Heys fourth successive win
Prestwich Heys chalked up a fourth successive win as they defeated Cleator Moor Celtic at Adie Moran Park.
On a night when Heys gave a nod to the future with a youthful line up it was a couple of the old hands who paved the way for victory as Lee Bruce and Mark Ayres struck the two goals which came in as many first half minutes.
Whilst not always convincing, Heys largely appeared to hold the edge throughout over their Cumbrian visitors who pushed them all the way on a bitterly cold evening.
Despite the 138-mile trip to Prestwich, Celtic made the livelier start forcing a couple of early corners as Heys struggled to find their rhythm.
Indeed, it was not until the 11th minute that Heys threatened when Will Shawcross worked space in the penalty area to test Celtic keeper Craig Divine at the near post.
It was portent of what was to follow as Heys began to exert their authority on proceedings. James Dwyer, who worked impressively at the heart of a young midfield twice went close. He first saw a shot deflected wide and then from the ensuing corner the ball broke on the edge of the area and his thunderous shot cannoned back off the crossbar.
Heys pace and movement was causing real problems for the visitors and Shawcross was next to go close as he jinxed into box, only for Divine to gather his shot.
However, in the 35th minute, Heys made the breakthrough. A ball over the top breached the visitors’ defensive line and Bruce broke clear to round the keeper and steer home.
Two minutes later, Heys doubled their lead. From a free kick just inside the Celtic half Carl Fitton delivered a perfect ball to pick out Ayres, who rising above everyone, headed home.
It might have been more when on the stroke of half time as some neat play by Lee Grimshaw teed up Bruce, but his shot went over the bar.
Heys continued to press at the start of the second period, Brad Sixsmith fired just wide and Jacob Holt went close with a header from a corner.
However, Celtic’s play carried more purpose than it had done for much of the first half and they reminded the hosts the game was far from over in the 51st minute when a stinging shot from Jamie Glover just cleared the bar.
It signaled a good spell for the visitors. Glover went close again with a shot on the turn before Heys keeper Mike Smith had to be alert to smother a header from the unmarked Stuart Shaw.
Having shown off their attacking skills in the first half, the Heys youngsters, were also showing they had an appetite for the hard work too. Their energy and ceaseless endeavor helping to quell any hopes of a comeback from the visitors.
Indeed, as the game entered the final stages it Heys who emerged the stronger. Shawcross was twice denied by Devine who firstly pushed a shot to safety before then gathering after a great through ball by Bruce had released the Heys wide man.
In the closing minutes, top scorer Lee Grimshaw broke clear but Devine was quick off his line to smother the strikers shot.
Nonetheless, it was job done for Heys who now make the short trip to title chasing AVRO on Saturday, kick off 3pm.
Team: Michael Smith, Kieron Sherlock, Carl Fitton, Brad Sixsmith, Mark Ayres (Capt.), Jacob Holt, James Wolfenden, James Dwyer, Lee Grimshaw, Lee Bruce, Will Shawcross Subs: Ryan Hutchinson, Mark Baguley, Dom Slaven, Paul Rocha, Jake Wood