By Stephen Howard
HEYS opened the new FBT Manchester League Premier Division season at Adie Moran Park with defeat to Stockport Georgians on Saturday.
In a tight game that ebbed and flowed throughout, the contest was ultimately decided by a superb individual goal by Georgians striker Sam Noar in the 71st minute.
His strike gave the visitors a 2-0 lead and although Danny Eyres pulled a goal back for Heys in the 90th minute, it was too late.
The two sides challenged for the title last season and both opened in cautious fashion.
The first chance came the way of Georgians in the ninth minute when Noar found space behind the Heys defence and lifted a shot over the advancing Rob Sadler only to see his shot come back off the bar.
Heys stemmed the flow and Chris Denham flashed a shot wide in the 19th minute.
Denham was in the thick of it again as he latched onto an Erike Sousa cross only to be denied by a stunning reaction save, at point-bank range, by Georgians keeper Dave Cash.
With Heys in the ascendancy, Georgians hit them with a sucker punch on 43 minutes.
Heys failed to deal with a ball into the box and Jamie Pickering was on hand to guide home from close range.
Cash stretched to hold a Paul Tierney header after good work from Darius Photiou before the Georgians keeper again denied Denham, pushing his angled shot to safety.
The visitors’ custodian was having an inspired afternoon and on the hour denied Heys again, diving bravely at the feet of Sousa.
Georgians held firm and they increased their lead on 71 minutes.
Noar picked the ball up out wide and, showing great pace, broke in to Heys’ box before drilling a low shot across Sadler into the bottom corner.
Heys finally found a way through in the 90th minute when, from a Jon Lyons free kick, the ball broke in the box to Eyres who smashed home from 12 yards.
Heys face another of last season’s title challengers on Saturday when they travel to Dukinfield Town (2pm).
Heys reached the semi-finals of the Kenyon Cup last week with an 8-0 home win over Little Lever.
Leading 7-0 at half time, Tierney, Denham, McGreevy and Sousa all scored twice for Heys who will be away to Tottington United in the last four on September 1.