West 2-1 Prestwich Heys

Tuesday 2nd August 2022, NWCFL Premier Division

West 2 (Elliott 67, Eme 72)
Prestwich Heys 1 (Nicholas 55)
Att: 587

West came back from a goal down to claim a first three points of the NWCFL Premier Division season.

After an attritional first period, Prestwich installed themselves in the box seat after Callum Nicholas’ fierce finish. But West responded in a dizzying five-minute period, with Ben Elliott and Zeke Eme securing the points in front of a raucous Brookburn Road.

Four points from the opening two games can be considered a very satisfactory start to West’s return to the NWCFL top flight, and the manner of the win against an impressive Heys should stand West in good stead for the coming campaign.

Clear chances were a precious commodity in a first half that had much in common with West’s weekend visit to Ashton Athletic. Elliott forced visiting keeper Jordan Latham into a low stop after finding space in the area, while at the other end Andrew Jones had to be alert to paw away an effort from a Heys forward.

But the half’s most obvious sight of goal came in stoppage time – after Dontai Gabidon had wriggled into the box, Rhain Davis appeared to be barged over when about to strike towards goal. The referee, however, was not interested in the vehement West protests and blew for half time soon afterwards.

The visitors took the lead ten minutes after the restart thanks to a moment of inspiration from Nicholas, who cut inside from the right wing and flashed an effort across Jones and into the far corner.

Falling behind roused West and after Elliott had turned subsitute Tom Westall’s low cross narrowly wide, the home side pulled level midway through the second period. Gabidon escaped down the right flank and after his cut-back fell invitingly for Elliott, the arch-poacher hammered the ball home.

Five minutes later West were ahead – Gabidon was again instrumental, threading a ball across goal into the path of Eme, who deservedly inked his name onto the scoresheet by sliding the ball past the approaching Latham.

West were now fully in the ascendency, attacking towards a cacophonous shed end, and Gabidon almost claimed a goal of his own as the home side looked to wrap up proceedings.

But there was still time for a match-winning intervention at the other end, when Heys were awarded a free kick 20 yards from goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Connor Berry’s ferocious effort brought an outstanding save from Jones, who then cleared the resulting corner to get West’s season well and truly underway.

West: A. Jones, Graham, Hancock (Westall), Gavin (Delaney), Hampson, Foulds, Eme (Miller), Taylor, Elliott, Davis (Dickinson), Gabidon. Not used: Swift.

Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Player of the Match: Ben Hampson.

Match reaction from Lenny Sullivan and Matty Phillips