SUPERB strikes by Shelton Payne and Will Shawcross helped Prestwich Heys to a 2-0 win against Atherton LR at a sun-kissed Adie Moran Park.

Heys did not always have it their own way against a lively and industrious LR side but they always looked to have the measure of their opponents and were ultimately good value for a win that made it four games unbeaten for Jon Lyons’ side.

The hosts made a lively start with Jamie Sinnott firing an angled shot across the face of goal and Jacob Holt stinging the hands of former Heys keeper Daniel Havern, in the LR goal, with a 20-yard shot.

However, it was Atherton who were to come closest to scoring in the seventh minute.

A great run though the middle by Dominic Barnes ended with a well-struck shot from the edge of the area that cannoned off the post.

With victories in their previous two outings, LR grew in confidence, making it hard for Heys to establish any real rhythm.

Set-pieces offered the best route to goal for the home side and Adrian Bellamy almost stole in from a Max White free kick, but could not keep his shot down.

When the drinks break came it was arguably LR who were the happier, but it served to work against them.

On the resumption, Heys visibly upped the ante and took the lead in the 32nd minute.

A midfield interception by White saw him seize possession and quickly steer the ball into the path of Payne who showed great composure in cutting into the box and then steering a curling shot low into the bottom corner of the net.

Indeed, Payne was at the hub of Heys’ best work. His great run and cross was begging for the touch that would guarantee a goal but eluded everyone.

Havern then denied Payne, keeping out his shot with a fine close-range save after some wing trickery by Rio Wilson-Heyes had opened up the LR defence.

On the stroke of half time, a White corner found Payne at the far post but his downwards header bounced up over the bar.

Heys looked to maintain their grip on proceedings after the restart. and Payne had a shot blocked and Havern had to be alert, racing off his line to halt a surging run by Darius Photiou.

Heys’ pressure told in the 53rd minute in stunning fashion.

A foul 20 yards out represented a good free-kick opportunity which Shawcross accepted and produced a glorious finish, his stunning shot beating the despairing dive of Havern to arrow into the top corner.

Atherton responded well and Daniel Ashburner had a good chance as the ball broke loose from a corner but, under pressure from Heys stopper Russell Saunders, he lifted his shot over.

Shawcross, buoyed by his goal, looked to put the game beyond the visitors with a jinking run into the box but his shot curled just wide.

LR were in no mood to throw in the towel and 10 minutes from time they opened up Heys on the left. However, Saunders reacted quickly to come out and smother Jacob Hancock’s shot.

The save seemed to sap the remaining energy from the visitors and Heys were able to see out the remaining minutes to collect three valuable points and continue their climb up the table.