A MIXED week for Prestwich Heys saw them make progress in the Macron Cup but fail to fire in front of goal, falling to a defeat in the North West Counties First DIvision North.

Heys came into the cup game at AFC Darwen on the back of four straight wins in all competitions and were at it from the get-go with some good early possession, and a chance falling to Max White, whose fierce shot was narrowly deflected past the post.

But, as lively as Heys were early on it was Darwen who broke the deadlock on eight minutes when the ball deflected into the path of Aspen Feathers.

His cross from the left found Jamie Gibson and he fired past Heys keeper Russell Saunders and into the bottom corner to put the hosts 1-0 up.

Unfazed by the early strike the visitors pressed forward and after Rio Wilson-Heyes dragged a shot wide, a finish from Niall Sultan took a deflection and went narrowly the wrong side of the post.

Shortly before the break Darwen keeper Jim Brindle suffered breaks to all five bones in his hand trying to recover the ball after he spilled a shot.

After a lengthy stoppage he was substituted with outfield player Sam Holt taking over in goal.

And, moments later, Heys drew level.

The equaliser came from a right-hand cross by Sultan that fell kindly for centre-back Adrian Bellamy, six yards out. His finish nestled in the bottom corner of the net to give Heys deserved parity at the break.

There was no let-up from Heys after the interval and White’s back-post cross was nodded wide by Mark Ayres.

By now Heys were in full flow with Darwen struggling to keep them at bay.

Though Anthony Hall was mesmerising down the left it was Wilson-Heyes who stole the show on 61 minutes as he unleashed a 25-yard shot which rose and then dipped enough to get just under the bar and send the Heys contingent wild.

Heys continued to press with Hall doing most of the damage down the left, enabling Wilson-Heyes and Bellamy to have chances to add to their tally but neither could convert.

As the clock ticked down Heys showed no sign of letting up, notably Brad Sixsmith in the middle, who was orchestrating the majority of all that was good about Heys’ play.

Two further chances came in the last couple of minutes with shots from Joe Rothwell and Hall bringing fine saves from the replacement Darwen keeper.

The 2-1 win took Heys’ unbeaten run to five games, and their confidence looked to be high as they came up against Holker Old Boys on Saturday.

Holker, a much-improved outfit, came into the game level on points with Heys in fifth and sixth places in the table separated only by goal difference.

And the expected close game saw both sides look to get the upper hand early on with Heys shading it by winning the 50-50 balls in the middle of the park.

Jacob Holt’s deep cross from the left just evaded Jamie Sinnott, who later set up Wilson-Heyes for a drive which Holker keeper Sam Stephens tipped over the bar.

Holker showed signs of getting into the game as the half went on and the warning signs were lit by Calum Baynes, who headed a chance over from eight yards out.

Just before half time Holker’s Brandon Collins chased a through ball and connected with Saunders, who had parried the ball out for a corner, but the referee pointed to the penalty spot. After a couple of minutes’ delay the referee finally consulted his linesman who said the collision was accidental and so a corner was awarded.

Chances were few and far between after half time, a free kick from Hall, held by Stephens as close as anyone looked like coming to a goal.

But on the hour mark Bellamy brought down the Holker centre forward and this time the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Samuel Joel stepped up and duly converted the spot kick.

Heys tried to break down a stubborn Holker outfit and nearly snatched a draw five minutes from time but Danny White’s header went agonisingly wide of the far post.

Holker nearly sealed their win in the closing minutes, catching Heys on the break as they chased an equaliser. The ball fell to Tom Dawson who was clean through, bearing down on Saunders’ goal, but somehow he put his shot wide with the goal gaping.

But their one goal proved to be enough and Heys’ inability to take the chances created came back to haunt them.

Heys will hope for better fortunes in their next game, a rearranged fixture on Saturday when Daisy Hill are the visitors.

Kick off at Adie Moran Park is 3pm.