PRESTWICH Heys kept their promotion push on track as late strikes by Ashley Stott and Alfie Belcher secured a 3-0 victory at Abbey Hulton United.

Jon Lyons’s team had made a flying start with an early goal from Rio Wilson-Heyes, but any thoughts of a comfortable afternoon were soon set aside as they were pushed all the way by a lively host side, who held the upper hand for much of the opening half.

Even when the hosts were reduced to 10 men in the 33rd minute – when their goalkeeper Luke Birkinshaw was dismissed – Heys had to battle hard for their win on a day when their play often lacked its usual fluency.

In a fast-paced opening United created the first chance of the game when Kieron Ball sent in a curling, dipping shot which Heys goalkeeper Michael Smith had to palm away from under the bar.

However, in the fourth minute Heys took the lead. Some crisp passing played Wilson-Heyes into the box and as he cut inside he delivered a brilliant chip over Birkinshaw and into the far corner.

The home side responded strongly and went close as Ball’s free kick came off the outside of the post.

Jake Stribling put a free header wide from close range shortly after as Heys struggled to gain a foothold.

However, while on the back-foot possession wise, Heys were working hard defensively and when they did get forward looked a threat.

From one such attack Stott broke clear and as he bore down on goal he looked to steer past the advancing Birkinshaw, who got down well to save.

The only problem was he made the save outside the penalty area, giving the referee no option but to show the red card for denying a certain goal.

Jamie Baguley and Max White both put free kicks in as Heys looked to capitalise on the extra man, but it was clear at the break they still had work to do.

That fact was underlined within moments of the restart, as Abbey Hulton created the first opening of the second half, when Dylan Bath created space for himself but fired over.

Although Heys were looking more comfortable than they had been, they were still struggling to make a real impression on the game and it seemed clear a second goal was needed.

Belcher came off the bench in the 65th minute and almost made an instant impact but his shot from 25 yards narrowly cleared the bar.

It prompted a better spell of play from Heys and in the 74th minute they got theirsecond goal. Belcher was brought down on the edge of the area and Stott blasted the resulting free kick into the bottom corner.

Stott might have had another 10 minutes from time when Wilson-Heyes played him in but stand-in keeper Thomas Kilgariff was quickly off his line to smother.

Heys did seal victory in the last minute when Lee Grimshaw’s header released Belcher who cut into the box and finished well.

On a day when it had not really happened, Heys stuck together and dug out a valuable win to stay in the First Division promotion hunt.

Heys remain on the road this Saturday, when they travel to FC Oswestry Town.

Kick off is 3pm.