Allen at the double as Padiham extend lead

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IT’S a case of as you were at the top of the North West Counties Premier Division with all the league’s leading clubs winning their midweek fixtures.

Maine Road and Runcorn Town won their fixtures on Monday evening, beating Barnoldswick Town and Stockport Sports respectively, Bootle left it late to beat Ashton Athletic on Tuesday night, and not to be outdone the Storks were triumphant in their tricky clash away at Yorkshire rivals Silsden on Wednesday.

But it was the hosts who had the better of the opening half-hour at Keighley Road with Padiham keeper Sean Davis coming to his side’s rescue after just eight minutes with a superb double stop.

First he kept out a Chris Wademan effort and as he got to his feet he made another excellent reflex save, this time preventing Kevin Ryan from finding the net.

Jake McEneaney gave Padiham another scare in the 26th minute with a shot that flashed across the face of goal.

But two goals from leading scorer Ben Allen in the space of two minutes around the half-hour mark secured the win for Steve Wilkes’s men, restoring their four-point advantage at the summit of the division.

Andrew Tinker played Allen in for the opener with the striker nonchalantly chipping his shot over Edward Hall.

Allen’s second was from the penalty spot after the prolific marksman picked himself up after being brought down, dusted himself off, and from 12 yards out he sent Hall the wrong way for his 27th goal of the campaign to make it 2-0.

Padiham’s Mark Sharples and Kenny Taylor tried to add to the Storks’ lead but both sent their efforts wide.

The hosts reminded Padiham that they weren’t prepared to lie down and surrender just before the break when another centre flashed across the face of goal, just lacking the necessary touch.

After the interval an ankle injury to defender Jack Overson resulted in a change and in the Storks’ next attack of the second half Taylor had a clear sight of goal but failed to beat Hall when one-on-one as the keeper saved with his legs.

Allen just missed out on his hat-trick, and the chance to climb alongside the league’s most potent striker, Congleton Town’s Chris Smith, in the scoring charts, but he headed Taylor’s cross wide in the 52nd minute.

At the other end Silsden’s most prolific hitman Michael Garrod missed a great opportunity to reduce the arrears when racing clear but with only Davis to beat the Padiham keeper came out on top, making an excellent challenge with his feet to dispossess Garrod.

Allen and Kieran Pickup forced Hall in to good stops while Davis saved a snap shot from Joseph Gaughan moments later.

The hosts went even closer to pulling a goal back when a last ditch tackle from Padiham’s Liam Foster gave Silsden a corner, and from the resulting set-piece defender Daniel Gleave crashed a header against the bar.

Storks substitute Marly Gough had an effort from the edge of the box deflected over the bar in the 81st minute before Hall tipped Pickup’s attempt over the top two minutes later, leaving Padiham 2-0 victors and still in pole position.

Meanwhile, the club is hoping that Burnley fans will take the opportunity to visit the Arbories tomorrow for what promises to be a real humdinger of a clash against second place Maine Road.

With the Clarets not playing until Monday evening, where they face Hull City, all supporters are welcome to attend the top of the table encounter which kicks off at 3 p.m.

• PADIHAM FC Ladies are urgently looking for a goalkeeper. The team compete in the North West Women’s Regional League and still have 11 league games left.

Please contact manager Gary Mills on 07753762889 asap if you can help.