Ashton Athletic 1, Padiham 3

TRANSFER: Christopher Ridehalgh
TRANSFER: Christopher Ridehalgh

PADIHAM picked up their first points of 2012 with a 3-1 away win over Ashton Athletic in the NWC Premier Division.

However, at the interval it looked as though the Storks had blown any chance of getting anything from the game after failing to take advantage of a strong wind in their favour in the opening 45 minutes.

Martin Broderick created the first opening inside five minutes with a surge down the right, and only a superb save from keeper Ross Baxter prevented Lee Morris from scoring when he tipped the striker’s header on to the crossbar.

Ed O’Neill beat Baxter with a stinging drive from distance in the 17th minute but his effort whistled wide of the post. At the opposite end Storks keeper Josh Boothman was equal to Steve Cunningham’s attempt.

Cunningham went even closer to breaking the deadlock for the hosts when he smashed an effort from the edge of the box against the upright in the 33rd minute and just minutes later the home side wasted another great opening when Chris Bagueley headed a Will Exton cross straight in to the arms of Boothman from close range.

Padiham finished the first half well as the woodwork was struck yet again; this time preventing Morris after the forward let fly. The same player also had a big shout for a penalty turned down and just before the half-time whistle was sounded Morris fired in a shot that Baxter had to be at his best to keep out.

Playing against the elements after the interval Padiham were soon under pressure and did well to survive a number of corners with Ashton’s Andrew Morgan going close with a header over the crossbar.

The outcome of the game changed on 55 minutes when midfielder Damien Morrison played in the lively Morris who shuck off the attentions of numerous defenders before slotting past Baxter and in to the net.

The Storks doubled their lead 10 minutes later after a break by Sam Heap down the right resulted in his drilled cross being tucked in at the back post by O’Neill.

Ashton continued to test Padiham’s defensive resilience but Martin Parkes, John Blackley, Michael Taylor and Louis Edwards threw everything at the ball to thwart the home side’s attempts.

Even when Bradley Cooke did get in a telling cross in the 69th minute, Bagueley couldn’t hit the target with his shot as he blazed his attempt over the bar.

Craig Chadwick’s men secured the points in the 73rd minute when substitute Andrew Sensale pulled a shot back in to the path of Morrison who lashed a low shot past Baxter to make it 3-0.

Leonard Reid pulled one back for the hosts, scoring direct from a left-sided set-piece in the 77th minute and although that galvanised Ashton, Cunningham, Bagueley and Luke Charnley squandered further opportunities.

Infact Morris almost scored a fourth for the Storks when he forced Baxter to make a sensational save low down by his upright.

Padiham have no midweek fixture but travel to face Atherton LR on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Padiham Reserves’ hopes of closing the gap on league leaders Ashton Athletic Reserves were dashed deep in to time added on when the two sides met at the Arbories on Saturday.

Again the fixture was wind affected which forced the Storks on to the back foot in the first half. And they went a goal down after only 34 seconds against their rivals when Jordan Williams netted without a Padiham player having touched the ball.

But the home side found a route back in to the game when Tom Bradley let fly from long range to beat Brad White and make it 1-1.

Nathan Egan scored a great solo goal just before the break to put Padiham 2-1 up at half-time and for the early parts of the second half Padiham looked the likely winners.

However, Padiham’s profligacy was punished when Joseph Hulls snatched a dramatic late equaliser.

Padiham Reserves are at home on Saturday to Daisy Hill Reserves with kick-off at 3 p.m.

Meanwhile, Barnoldswick Town have completed the signing of Storks midfielder Chris Ridehalgh.