Two goals of the highest quality saw Prestwich come out on top in a hard fought evenly matched game against a Blackrod side uncharacteristically scrapping to avoid relegation.
The early exchanges were fairly even although scrappy with the lumpy playing surface affecting passing accuracy and possession was changing hands very frequently. Both sides were managing sporadic attacks though with Tito Miguel in particular catching the eye for the hosts.
On 11 minutes Prestwich were awarded a free kick some 25 yards out in a central position following one of a series of rash challenges by the visitors, mostly on Miguel but left back James Barlow on the end of one particularly nasty looking challenge.
Mike Neary stepped up to the kick and it was a beauty, firmly struck he bent it round the right hand side of the wall at waist height into the keepers left giving him no chance.
The game proceeded in the same vein scrappy by nature with neither side able to build up any fluency but both carving out the occasional chance. For Prestwich one of the best passing moves of the game saw Barlow link up with Miguel and Sean Haslam on the overlap to get himself to the left hand edge of the area completely unopposed, unfortunately his shot was rushed and skewed wide. Matty Brennan was desperately unlucky not to extend the lead meeting a cross from the left full on with a diving header only to hit a defender on the line.
Whilst it would be harsh to describe the visitors as a one man team they did have in their ranks the most influential player on the pitch in the form of their number 10 who seemed to have the ability to wriggle past players at will and the whole of the Prestwich rear guard had to be constantly on their toes to avoid the threat as he drifted around the pitch dropping deep to receive the ball.
Lewis Smith who had a fine game was penalised harshly on several occasions by the ref for what appeared to a simple case of him using his strength to brush him off the ball.
Surprisingly the equalizer when it on 30 mins came wasn’t from the number 10, a long cross from the left seemed to land between keeper Mike Hudson, Steadman and Baz Campbell to reach a diminutive Blackrod strike who was somehow able to bundle it into the net. It remained even at the break.
The second half was a very even affair with both sides trading blows but the defences largely on top and few really clear chances. For Prestwich the back line of recent signing Dillian White, Campbell, Richard Steadman and Barlow were largely dominant repelling most attacks before they threatened Hudson’s goal.
As the minutes ticked by both sides took more risks pushing players further forward and the half chances became more and more frequent for both sides, for Prestwich Smith in particular was surging forward more in support of Haslam from his deeper lying role more and more. And it was from one such burst that Prestwich scored a tremendous winning goal on 76 mins, picking up the ball centrally just inside the Blackrod half Smith set off on a diagonal run left to right powering past several players, forced into a very wide position but having drawn defenders out Smith played a cracking reverse ball low across the box to Haslam who met it perfectly to sweep the ball home high to the keepers right.
Blackrod tried desperately hard to salvage something out of the game but Prestwich’s defence stood firm to grab the points.