ON the 81st anniversary of the club’s formation Prestwich Heys were not able to deliver the victory they craved as First Division North leaders Longridge Town took the points with a 2-1 win in a hard-fought contest at Adie Moran Park.

However, there was much for Heys to take from the game. As music master Elgar Lumsden had orchestrated a group of young men to begin to build the club on that February afternoon in 1938 there were signs the present-day conductors, Jon Lyons and Ryan Hutchinson, are doing something similar in the present day.

The season has seen the emergence of a new, young Heys side and they showed plenty of promise as they went toe-to-toe with a Longridge side that has topped the table from the start of the season. For good spells of the game Heys were the better team and their endeavours were deserving of at least a point, though the visitors also demonstrated the quality that has seen them take the division by storm.

They took the lead in the eighth minute, when a fierce shot by Thomas Ince was not gathered by Heys keeper Michael Smith and as the ball reared off his chest, Ryan McKenna showed lightning-quick reactions to seize on the loose ball and fire home.

It was harsh on Heys, who had started brightly, but their response was good. Moving the ball quickly though the midfield they pushed their opponents back. A Carl Fitton free kick was headed wide by Jacob Holt and James Dwyer fired over following Danny White’s corner.

However, in the 28th minute, Longridge doubled their lead. Heys conceded possession deep in the visitors’ half and when Holt failed to cut out Christopher Turner’s raking pass, Richie Allen broke down the right. The former Salford City man then fired in a pinpoint cross for Jay Hart to smash home from close range with all the ruthlessness that has seen his side plunder 108 league goals so far this season.

Unbowed, Heys continued to play their football. Brad Sixsmith fired a free kick wide and although Aaron Fleming went close for the visitors the momentum was with Heys.

Lee Grimshaw showed some fine close control but could not keep his shot down.

It took some fine goalkeeping by Town stopper Lee Dovey to thwart Heys, getting down sharply to keep out a Dwyer shot before recovering quickly to gather at the feet of Sixsmith.

Longridge started the second half the better, but the first chance came Heys’ way as man-of-the-match Will Shawcross played a great ball in for Cory Knight whose shot was held low down, at full stretch, by Dovey.

Allen had a chance to put the game beyond Heys but headed tamely at Smith.

The hosts continued to press, and Knight’s pace took him into the box, only for Dovey to gather his shot at the second attempt.

Shortly after, Jake Wood sliced wide from six yards and Shawcross curled his shot the wrong side of the upright.

In the 70th minute, Heys’ persistence paid off. Shawcross played Knight in and, as defenders and Dovey bore down on him, he showed great dexterity to fire home.

Heys continued to press, a couple of corners inducing moments of real panic in the Longridge defence with Holt and Shawcross both unable to make firm connections, allowing the visitors to scramble clear. From that point, Longridge used their experience and know-how to see the game out.

Heys travel to Daisy Hill on Saturday in the league, kick off 3pm.