League hopes may be over for Heaton Moor after narrow defeat in Lancashire

Steve Ireland drives forward for Heaton Moor

Vale of Lune 27-24 Heaton Moor Senior Colts

Heaton Moor Senior Colts’ bid for the Halbro NW League may be over after a battling defeat in Lancaster.

The Stockport lads travelled north with a severely depleted squad due to a mixture of injuries and work commitments but the 18 who made the journey did themselves and their club proud with a resilient display that just fell short in the end.

Immediate territory and a quick penalty by the excellent Charlie Pinhorn created a move which Dylan Starkie ultimately finished but with great handling by Asa Bottomley and Joe Kilbride on the way.

Connor Bailey kicked a cracking drop conversion to open up an early seven-point advantage after just five minutes.

But the home team hit back with two tries midway through the first half, one of which they converted, and Moor were facing up to the break with a five-point deficit.

But back they came, Emilio Ramirez only just missing out on a try after a brilliant last-ditch tackle.

From the resulting dropout, stand-in skipper Dec McGeehan blocked down, creating panic in Vale’s defence.

Joe Kilbride grasped the opportunity and with a brilliantly weighted kick pass, sent Bottomley in for great team try, Bailey just missing the conversion to send the sides in level at half-time.

The home team started to bare their teeth in the second half, the visitors’ pack beginning to creak slightly.

Ten minutes in and Vale re-took the lead with  a converted score, and Moor were under pressure.

They introduced Sam Sheppard, Tom Bushby and Will Smith to freshen things up and within five minutes they hit back.

Angus Boothroyd picked up a ball after some brilliant work in midfield, and inspired by team-mate Kilbride’s first-half exploits, produced a perfectly-weighted left-foot kick-pass for Bottomley to explode into action for another try, Bailey expertly tying the game up.

This was a great battle, both sides playing their part in an intriguing face-off.

Then, within a ten-minute period in the final quarter, the Lancastrians scored a try in the corner and then added a penalty to open up what would be an eventual winning gap.

With a couple of minutes left and staring down the barrel, Joe Kilbride dragged some last-ditch efforts out of his team with a spectacular carry and intelligent offload to brother Cameron and Tom Eaton sped through to score.

Moor received the kick-off and were somehow finding reserves. Tom Bushby broke but was hauled down in a high challenge, Sam Sheppard attempted to go quick but was penalised for taking it in the wrong position and that was it.

Heaton Moor had just fallen short in a tenacious battle and a tribute to both sides for an uncompromising, fair contest.

Moor will now dust themselves off and look forward to a home game against Southport next weekend, all leading up to the cup quarter final the following weekend.