IF ever there was the perfect example of a ‘game of two halves’ then Padiham’s away fixture at AFC Liverpool would be right up there among the candidates.
The home side quite clearly had the better of the opening 45 minutes with the Storks reversing the dominance after half-time.
It might seem surprising then that Craig Chadwick’s side had the first goalscoring opportunity when Sam Heap broke down the right in the fifth minute before firing a low, hard centre across the face of goal, which just needed a touch to turn it home.
Four minutes later, however, Padiham fell a goal behind and they proved the orchestrators of their own downfall. Full-back Louis Edwards failed to control keeper Josh Boothman’s clearance and from the resulting throw-in the ball reached John Lawless who curled a shot in to the Storks net to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Lawless nearly doubled his own personal tally and Liverpool’s lead just moments later when a mix up in the Padiham defence allowed the striker to wriggle free and shoot wide when he should have hit the target.
Heap then missed a glorious chance at the opposite end to level proceedings; a ball in from Martin Broderick was headed down by Martin Parkes only for Heap to blaze over from close range.
In the 26th minute Liverpool’s Steven Jones headed just over from a Francis Barry free-kick and in the 33rd minute Jones sent another set-piece inches over the crossbar. And Boothman had to be alert to deny James Buckley two minutes later.
Buckley caused Padiham’s rearguard problems throughout the first half and went close on two further occasions with a long range effort and a header whistling past the post.
Chadwick was then forced in to a change just before the interval when Boothman was carried off after lengthy treatment on his leg and the keeper was replaced by Stuart Telfer (pictured) for the remainder of the game.
When the game restarted Padiham almost equalised against the run of play.
A poor clearance by keeper Leon Bimpson from the edge of his area fell to Padiham midfielder Jamie Treanor who lobbed the ball back towards goal only for the effort to land beyond the bar with Treanor helplessly back-peddling.
The second half started at a much higher tempo and in the opening seven minutes of the half Padiham’s Nathan Egan got in on goal three times, having two shots saved and another which flashed wide.
At the other end stand-in keeper Telfer somehow stopped a Jones header with his foot and then got his body behind a long range attempt from Barry. Moments later he denied Darren Torpey.
Parkes caused panic among the home side’s defence on the hour mark but could only scoop over a chance before heading another opportunity in to the arms of Bimpson.
Padiham’s pressure almost paid off in the 68th minute when a ball in from Edwards found Heap and the striker thumped an effort against the upright after a clever turn. Parkes headed a long Edwards throw in to the side-netting and as Padiham continued to press Heap fired wide from Egan’s whipped cross from the right.
The Storks equaliser finally arrived with five minutes remaining when Egan latched on to Heap’s through ball and angled a shot out of the reach of Bimpson and in to the corner to make it 1-1.
Padiham had one final scare before the full-time whistle sounded when a long range shot from Jones needed Telfer to claw the ball around the post and away to safety.
The Storks have no midweek fixture but take on St Helens Town at the Arbories on Saturday with kick-off at 3 p.m. Padiham Reserves are at home tomorrow against AFC Darwen Reserves with kick-off at 7-45 p.m.
Meanwhile, Padiham’s A team drew 2-2 with Burnley Belvedere in the East Lancashire Football League at Fennyfold. Zak Dale and Joel Melia scored for the Storks.
Padiham FC Under 18s went down to their first East Lancashire Alliance Youth League defeat of the season, losing 2-1 away to Barnoldswick Town.
Andy Hill scored a second half penalty for the Storks to reduce the deficit after trailing 2-0 at the interval.
And Padiham FC Under 12s beat Rossendale United 4-1 thanks to a brace from Liam Simm and further goals from Marc Hughes and Billy Grant.
Elsewhere, Padiham FC Ladies failed to live up to their high standards in the North West Womens League though two late goals secured victory over Southport Birkdale.
Padiham trailed to a 51st minute strike but goals in the 85th and 88th minute from Justine Wallace ensured a 2-1 victory at the Thomas Whitham College.