AFTER another three weeks’ lay-off due to the bad weather, Hesketh Bank’s first team got back into action as they travelled to Blackburn to play Mill Hill St Peter’s who they defeated 3-1 at home back on November 10.
Indeed that was actually the last time Hesketh Bank had won a league match having drawn the only other two games played since then.
Manager James Smith was forced to make changes. He was without regular goalkeeper Paul Sergeant through injury with Henry Heighton deputising. Adam Birkby returned to play alongside Adam Thompson and Sean Royle as part of a back three and new signing Pablo Concha Sanchez took a place on the bench.
On an excellent surface it was the home side who settled first and forced a couple of early corners. Skipper and leading scorer Daniel Birkby played in a midfield role which allowed Jamie Dalton to partner Richard Burns up front. It was Daniel Birkby who opened the scoring with Hesketh Bank’s first real attack after five minutes.
His 20-yard strike flew over the keeper and hit the under-side of the crossbar before going over the line for his 24th goal of the season.
Wide man Kevin Cox should have increased that lead shortly after but was unable to convert from two yards after Jamie Dalton’s left foot strike was superbly tipped onto a post by the home goalkeeper.
The home side began to get back into the game and were rewarded with an equaliser on 15 minutes when a cross from the right was met by the onrushing centre forward who made no mistake from close range.
Josh Norgate restored the lead after Daniel Birkby’s cross found him unmarked coming in from the left and he followed up his initial effort which was saved by the keeper to drill the ball home.
Mill Hill hit back strongly and forced Heighton into making two fine saves and they thought they had equalised on the stroke of half-time with Heighton well beaten but he was thankful to see the ball come back off the inside of a post.
The second-half began as the first had finished with Hesketh Bank forced to defend their goal.
Despite this pressure Mill Hill rarely troubled them as Bank boss Smith brought on all three substitutes and changed his team’s tactics to soak up the home side’s forward play.
In a rare attack on 75 minutes at the other end Richard Burns saw his header hit the bar.
With five minutes of normal time remaining, Mill Hill should have equalised but Heighton made an important save with his legs from point blank range.
The referee then found six minutes of stoppage time from somewhere but that was the last scare and during that time it was Hesketh Bank who could have increased their lead but Ian Dickinson saw his effort from the edge of the box hit an upright.
This hard-fought result means that Hesketh Bank move up a couple of places to fourth in the table behind runaway leaders Norcross & Warbreck.
Wyre Villa are second in the division and Garstang third.
All won at home at the weekend.
Meanwhile at the Centenary Sports Ground, Hesketh Bank’s Reserves defeated Turton Reserves 8-0.
The first-half was tight with just a single goal separating the sides at the interval.
However the introduction of veteran Mark Harrison from the bench who scored four second-half goals and a second strike from John Ascroft and one each from Matthew Dawson and Bradley Haddock completed the rout.
This Saturday, the first team will entertain Dalton United at the CSG while the Reserves travel to Todmorden Borough with both fixtures kicking off at 3pm.
FOR up to date details check out the website www.heskethbankafc.co.uk