Report: Prestwich Heys 3-4 West

Tuesday 16th November 2021, Lancashire Challenge Trophy second round

Prestwich Heys 3 (Daniels pen 34, Potts 70, Grimshaw 80)
West 4 (Matthews 47, 72, Delaney pen 84, Eme 88)
Att: 234

Ezeikel Eme’s spectacular first goal in West colours settled a pulsating Lancashire Challenge Trophy tie at Prestwich Heys.

Chris Rowley’s side trailed to the NWCFL Premier Division hosts on three occasions, with former West man Lee Grimshaw appearing to have settled matters when he put Heys back ahead with ten minutes remaining. But after Billy Matthews had twice hauled West level, Liam Delaney struck from the spot before Eme jinked into the box and whipped a shot into the far corner with two minutes remaining.

With one eye on Saturday’s league game against Stockport Town, Rowley shuffled his pack with Matthews and Isaac Graham dropping into the back four. Marcus Dibble withdrew in the warm-up, replaced by Connor Hancock, and though West conceded more than two in a game for only the second time this season, they were ultimately deserved winners on perseverence alone.

There was little sign of the second-half drama to follow in a tight first period – Aarron Grewal was narrowly off-target on two occasions and Callum Jones sent a free kick narrowly wide of the post, but it was the hosts who led at the break. Graham upended a Heys forward in the box, and Greg Daniels sent his penalty down the middle to open the scoring.

Rowley was given a further headache in the closing moments of the half, as Hancock was involved in a bruising collision that led to him making way for Rhain Davis at the interval. But the West sub made an instant impact after the restart, involving himself in a neat move with Aarron Grewal before Matthews broke into the box and rolled the ball into the far corner.

West continued to press after Matthews’ leveller, with the tireless Tom Westall having a cross turned behind by a Heys defender. But the pendulum began to swing back towards the hosts, and Louis Potts capped a period of pressure when he pounced on a loose ball inside the six yard box.

But the visitors were in no mood to go quietly and Matthews, still operating in the right-back position, doubled his tally less than 120 seconds after Potts’ goal. Substitute Ben Elliott was integral, darting down the right wing and pulling the ball back for Matthews to finish past keeper Thomas Simpson.

The game then appeared to turn on two moments at either end – Grewal ran through on goal but was denied by a sprawling Simpson, shortly before Grimshaw was given too much time to lash a shot high into Andrew Jones’ net.

But West hauled themselves off the canvas yet again, with Elliott proving to be an increasing nuisance to the home defence. Four minutes after Grimshaw’s goal, the referee had little option but to award a second penalty of the night after Elliott was shoved over inside the area, and Delaney rolled the ball into the corner to level things up once again.

West went all the way to a penalty shoot-out at Bacup Borough in the first round of this competition, but even with only six minutes remaining a deciding goal looked likely. It was just a question of which side would get it – and Eme answered emphatically. He collected Delaney’s raking pass on the left wing, cut inside his marker and arrowed a shot past Simpson to send the West support – most sheltering at the other end of the ground on a foul evening – into raptures.

Heys – and the game in general – had nothing more to give and West were able to see out a sixth straight win in all competitions. There was a little revenge to be had after Heys knocked West out of this competition at the same stage two years ago, but it was Eme’s late intervention that was closest to the away support’s lips as they filed out into the Bury night.

West: A. Jones, Matthews, Westall, Tinker, Hancock (Davis ht), Graham, Grewal, Gavin (Delaney 67), Swift, C. Jones (Elliott 67), Eme. Not used: Ryan.

Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Player of the Match: Billy Matthews.

Chris Rowley post-match reaction