PRESTWICH Heys produced arguably their worst performance of the season as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Atherton LR on Saturday.
After the 2-1 midweek win against Cheadle had pushed his side into the frame for a play-off place, Heys manager Jon Lyons was looking for his team to press on but instead he witnessed an astonishingly poor display in which the LR goalkeeper did not have a save to make.
Stopper Mark Baguley kept his team in the game in the first half as Heys toiled up the slope at Crilly Park and, although they improved after the break, they never really looked like overcoming a side who showed more desire and attacking threat to deservedly ease their relegation worries.
The tone was set from the kick off with Baguley called into action to stop an Adam Owens shot.
Heys responded when Chris Baguley got in behind the defence but his first-time shot went over the bar. Soon after Jake Wood headed wide but that was to be as good as it got for Heys as the hosts took complete control, outplaying the visitors in all areas of the park.
Lewis Welsh headed over from close range before Theodore Kidd broke clear, only for Mark Baguley to block with his feet.
Heys were unable to string anything together and were thankful for LR’s wastefulness as Mark Baguley kept them in the game.
In the 39th minute he dropped sharply to his right to push away a close-range Kidd shot that came though the legs of two Heys defenders.
It looked like Heys would emerge from the half unscathed but in the 44th minute the hosts finally punished them. Mark Baguley again did his best as he blocked Kidd one-on-one but when the ball came back into the danger area the latter was the quickest to react to slot home.
Heys surely could not play as badly in the second half and with the slope they hoped to come back strongly. There was an immediate improvement as they began to finally string some football together but chances were still hard to come by and it was not until the 58th minute when Chris Baguley saw a free kick deflected wide that the home goal seemed seriously under threat.
Shortly after Shaun Johnson flashed a header just over the bar from another corner to raise hopes but Rovers came closest to scoring as only the foot of the post prevented Welsh from increasing their lead.
The hosts went close again when Kidd broke into the box before firing into the side netting.
Heys sent Lee O’Brien up front but they were unable to fashion a clear opening.
There were a couple of late half-chances but Heys had been nowhere good enough to warrant any reward from the game. Results elsewhere mean they remain in the playoff hunt but they will have to improve massively if they are to realise their ambitions.
On Saturday, Heys hosts title chasing Charnock Richard before making the long trip to Carlisle City on Easter Monday.
Both games kick off at 3pm.