HEYS maintained their push for promotion from the Hallmark Security League First Division with a hard-fought 2-0 win at Ashton Town on Saturday.
It was by no means Heys' most eye-catching performance of the season but after a three-week lay off due to bad weather they showed great resilience on a heavy pitch to register their fifth straight victory.
It could yet prove to be a massive three points, moving Heys to nine points off the play-off places with four games in hand of sixth-placed Sandbach.
Basement club Ashton made the livelier start and tested Heys' defence early on.
Paul Cliff perhaps should have done better when he found space but lifted his shot high and wide.
Much of Heys' play was untidy in the opening exchanges but they put together some neat football in the 20th minute to get the ball in the net when Chris Baguley poked home a Jamie Baguley cross from close range.
But the goal was disallowed after the referee's assistant flagged for offside, even thought there were Ashton defenders on the line.
The incident signalled a clear shift in momentum and Heys did finally open the scoring four minutes later.
Michael Itela broke down the right and crossed for Paul Tierney whose flicked header came off the bar before falling to Jamie Baguley to drill home.
With man-of-the-match Danny White pulling the strings in midfield, Heys almost added a second goal two minutes later when Itela burst into the box but home keeper Matthew Hodge saved well with his feet.
The hosts came close to equalising on 30 minutes through a quick break. It took a good low save by Andrei Stinca to deny Robert Ablewhite and preserve Heys' lead.
As the play switched to the other end Itela picked out Chris Baguley but Hodge again stretched out a foot to deny Heys.
Although the momentum was with Heys the hosts looked dangerous when they attacked and Stinca pulled off another fine save in the 39th minute, diving low to push away an Ablewhite shot.
Three minutes before the break Heys increased their lead. A superb cross-field pass by Chris Baguley released Itela and the Heys wide man burst into the box before steering a low shot past Hodges.
Ashton started the second period in lively fashion and might have scored twice in the opening moments, but Cliff and Ablewhite squandered the chances.
Heys responded on the hour by almost adding a third but Jake Wood’s header from a corner was cleared off the line and as the ball bobbled in the box Shaun Johnson shot over.
Struggling to make headway on an increasingly heavy pitch, Heys were forced to dig in and protect their lead.
A combination of some dogged defence and the hosts' lack of composure helped preserve their lead, with a smothering save from Stinca and a goal-line clearance from Johnson thwarting Ashton.
Heys face two huge games in the promotion race next week as they travel to fourth-placed Charnock Richard on Saturday, kick off 3pm, before hosting Sandbach at Adie Moran Park next Wednesday (7.45pm).
Heys Reserves came from 2-0 and 3-2 down to draw 3-3 with Chapel Town on Saturday. Tony Hanson’s side remain six points off the top in Manchester League Division One with five games in hand. They travel to Altrincham Hale on Saturday (2pm).