After a wretched 2020, the sun was shining at Hopwood Hall as both teams contested their first competitive league match for six months.
Following an elongated preseason, both teams were raring to go and there wasn’t long to wait for goal mouth action. A long ball wasn’t dealt with by Prestwich, Steadman left isolated and it was Old Blacks who took the lead on the 11-minute mark.
Critically, Prestwich returned fire instantly. The outstanding Martin Hill, charged down the right and his cross was deflected in by an Old Blacks defender just two minutes after the visitors had opened the scoring. Hill had been Prestwich’s outstanding preseason performer so it was no surprise to see him so heavily involved down the flank in the first half. In truth, Prestwich had the better of the opportunities and should have gone in ahead but Old Blacks were still posing a threat in this competitive contest.
Into the second half now and the heat started to play its part. The game became stretched and there were unforced errors in possession on both sides. Prestwich gambled with an attacking substitution, all action Neary was moved to the flank, with Tito Miguel adding some pace and touches in midfield, Barlow being withdrawn after putting together another strong display.
Prestwich took the lead in the 64th minute, a cross from the right flashed across the box and it was Neary, so often Prestwich’s talisman, who hammered it home at the back stick. In the final fifteen minutes, Prestwich put the game to bed with an unlikely strike from centre back Steadman. The defender picked out the top corner from fifteen yards, although the curling effort had surely been deflected. Prestwich had looked the fitter side overall and were good value for the lead.
There would be no quit in Old Blackburnians though. They got back into the contest with six minutes to play which made for a nervous finish for the home side.
Prestwich claimed the points on the opening day and they will be delighted to be off and running after working so hard in preseason. The Heys Road outfit travel to Rochdale St Clements next week.