THE three red cards and six yellow cards dished out by referee Peter Gibbons gives the impression that this NWC Premier Division clash was at worst brutal and at best impetuous. However, the match official was far too forthcoming in his brandishing of cards.
For 30 minutes this was a normal game of football with Padiham missing a great chance to go ahead when Martin Parkes headed Andy Haworth’s cross wide. The Storks squandered further opportunities when both Damien Morrison and Lee Morris failed to beat Alsager keeper Tom Harrison with efforts during a goalmouth scramble.
The home side went close themselves with three efforts in six minutes that Storks keeper Josh Boothman kept out with saves from Liam Rigby, Jack Sherratt and Ben Clarkson.
Things changed however on the half-hour mark when Padiham’s Keiran Fletcher dived in to block a pass on the halfway line. Within seconds the Wirral official had the red card held aloft much to the amazement of everyone within the Town Ground as there was no contact made between Fletcher and his opponent.
To make it worse for the Storks, the hosts took the lead from the resulting free-kick when Chris Smith headed home a floated cross in to the penalty area. And it remained 1-0 until the interval.
Craig Chadwick opted for a back three in the second half, a decision which consequently back-fired. After just eight minutes of the restart the home side doubled their advantage when a break down the left resulted in Smith heading past Boothman unmarked for his and Town’s second of the afternoon.
Padiham keeper Boothman saved well from Leigh Skellern in the home side’s next attack while at the other end Tom Harrison made equally good stops to prevent Parkes and Craig Winters from finding the net.
Referee Peter Gibbons fulfilled the half-time predictions on 70 minutes when he issued a second yellow card to Alsager’s Liam Rigby and the red card and followed it up five minutes later with another red card, this time to Alsager’s Phil Stafford.
It was now Padiham’s 10 men against Alsager’s nine men yet it was Alsager’s Chris Smith who nearly completed his hat-trick when he hit a shot against Padiham’s post on 80 minutes.
The Storks never troubled the home side in the run-up to full-time which was a massive let down to manager Craig Chadwick and the Storks’ supporters who had travelled to watch the match.
Padiham FC first team have no midweek fixture although a padiham FC XI will play Rock Rovers tonight in the NHS Bird Cup Final at Colne FC’s Holt House Ground, weather permitting, kick-off 7 p.m.
On Saturday the Storks travel to AFC Liverpool while the Storks Reserves travel to New Mills Reserves, both games kick-off at 3 p.m.
All of Padiham FC’s other five teams’ fixtures were postponed because of water-logged pitches.