Hallmark Security League Division One: Silsden 2 Prestwich Heys 2

DANNY Forrest came off the bench to secure an equaliser which kept the gap between leaders Silsden and fourth-placed Prestwich to 19 points.

Heys have four games in hand on the Cobbydalers, who nevertheless continue to bank points while other teams face a mounting backlog of fixtures due to the bad weather.

Silsden maintained their proud record of not having had a game postponed on their home pitch for more than a season and a half.

Saturday's game was the only one played on a grass pitch in the North West Counties League as all others fell victim to the winter weather.

Elsewhere, promotion rivals Whitchurch won 5-1 at St Helens and Widnes beat Barnton in the Premier Division but both matches were played on artificial surfaces.

Although the pitch at the Cobbydale Constrution Stadium was a tad heavy, it held up well and the sizeable 182 crowd were well entertained.

The Cobbydalers took the initiative early on but it was the keepers who played the most significant roles in the final outcome, both Prestwich's Michael White and Silsden's Callum Jakovlevs making vital saves at critical moments.

Craig Bentham fired narrowly wide in the second minute and Kyle Hancock drove across the face of the goal after a superb ball from Reece Kendall.

Silsden took the lead on 24 minutes. Chris Wademan, who was rather isolated up front, made a diagonal run across the area and was found by Bentham. White blocked his shot but Bentham drove it back in and Arley Barnes blasted home from close range.

Silsden kept the pressure on with Dan Illingworth finding Wademan, whose volley forced an acrobatic save from White. The keeper then saved from Illingworth after Hancock had opened up the Heys’ defence.

The Mancunians levelled on 34 minutes. A long ball caught out the usually impeccable Josh Kaine and Alfie Belcher ran on and slotted home.

The visitors were visibly lifted and an error by Barnes facing his own goal allowed Ashley Stott to break clear. A goal looked certain but Jakovlevs, diving to his right, pushed the ball narrowly wide in a save as significant as White’s at the other end.

The second half was nip and tuck. The Cobbydalers began to surrender possession too cheaply and the defence was forced to work hard. Matty Moses followed up a super tackle with an equally penetrating run but some of his team-mates weren’t quite at their best.

Boss Forrest replaced the hard-working Wademan, and Matty Tomas came on for the disappointing Niah Payne.

Former Cobbydaler Danny Vincent sent over a glorious cross which was headed out before there was a goalmouth scramble. Moses was in the act of clearing the ball when Lee Bruce just beat him to the ball and a penalty was conceded which Danny White converted to make it 2-1 to the visitors on 67 minutes.

The equaliser came five minutes later when Hancock's free-kick into the box was flicked on by the head of Forrest and over the bemused keeper.

Heys almost respondend when Jacob Wood slid the ball to Belcher, who crossed for Danny White but, with the goal at his mercy, shot over.

The draw was the first of the season for the Cobbydalers and assistant manager Matt McNeil was satisfied with the result.

He said: “We weren’t quite at our best and the lads acknowledged that. In the circumstances a point kept the gap between us and one of our main promotion rivals to 19 points, although Heys have four games in hand.”

The Cobbydalers have no game at the weekend. They face Bacup Borough away on Saturday, February 24.

SILSDEN: Jakovlevs, Moses, Kendall, Kaine, Illingworth, Bentham, Barnes, Hancock, Wademan (Forrest 64), Payne (Tomas 64), Rhodes (Everingham 67).