PADIHAM maintained their excellent away record in the Vodkat Premier Division but only just as they needed an injury-time equaliser from full-back Tom Bradley to earn a point against St Helens Town.
Both sides struggled to dictate the fixture on an unkempt playing surface at Ashton Town’s Edge Green Street Stadium as possession continuously changed hands. It was a surprise therefore just how good the build up play was which led to Padiham’s opening goal. An intricate, free-flowing move resulted in Paul Fildes swinging in a dangerous right wing cross in to the path of Ed O’Neill who headed home in the 14th minute.
The Storks dominated the following 10 minute spell but were made to rue missed chances by Fildes, Jordan Hulme and Stuart Telfer as the game progressed. And it was the 27th minute which saw the hosts draw level in spectacular fashion when Chris McGann surprised Padiham keeper Sean Davis with a lobbed effort from 40 yards to make it 1-1 with Davis in ‘No Man’s Land’.
In the run up to half-time Telfer had a shot that went agonisingly wide of the St Helens upright while at the other end only a goal line clearance from Padiham’s Bradley prevented James Gardner from giving the home side the lead.
Padiham had the better of the opening exchanges in the second half with Martin Parkes inches away from converting an O’Neill free-kick, Bradley firing over from the edge of the box and Hulme going close twice.
But then the momentum of the game changed and the hosts fired a warning shot when Gardner broke free in the 63rd minute but blazed his effort over the bar. Then Davis was involved in a mad 60 seconds as he conceded a penalty, saved James Croxton’s resulting spot kick and then watched as Croxton fired the rebound past him to give St Helens a 2-1 lead.
Fildes smashed a fierce drive against the upright soon after but in a grandstand finish, after being entrenched in the home side’s half, Bradley ghosted in to the six-yard box to apply the final touch to a loose ball and earn Padiham a dramatic point.
Padiham face another tough fixture tomorrow when they travel to face league leaders New Mills with kick-off at 3 p.m. Meanwhile the reserves entertain Wigan Robin Park reserves at the Arbories tomorrow with kick-off also at 3 p.m.
And what a season it’s been for Padiham’s youngsters.
Victory over East Lancashire Alliance Youth League runners up Mill Hill meant the champions ended the season without dropping a single point in 14 games.
Ben Lee headed the Storks in to a 1-0 half-time lead before David Wright added a second after the break to secure a 2-0 win.
The Arbories youngsters had previously clinched the title in a 3-1 win against Huncoat United with goals from Wright, Ash Stevenson and Joe Rodriguez to earn the club’s second piece of silverware of the season.
Meanwhile, Josh Etherington grabbed a brace as Padiham U11s claimed a 4-1 win over Pendle Forest.
Mason Hughes and Levi Ostle also scored in the North Valley Youth League fixture while Tom Mulrooney was awarded the man of the match accolade.
• READSTONE United Under 9s Yellow beat Pendle Forest Eagles 2-1 to win the league title. Harry Burrows, who previously scored a hat-trick in the 4-1 win over Barrowford Celtic Blacks, bagged both goals while Luke Gregson was named man of the match.
The club’s under 11s Blue side also recorded a 2-1 victory against Rossendale United. Goals from Bradley Ditch and star player Juddson Hickey extended their unbeaten run to 13 games which moved them to second in the league.
• BGSOB suffered a 4-1 reverse against Hurst Green despite making the best possible start when Stobbs headed home a cross from the right. However, Bamber equalised for the hosts from the spot after 15 minutes and Chippendale later turned the game on its head. Jagger and Grice both went close for the Old Boys but Hurst Green rounded the game off, scoring two goals on the break.
• BURNLEY Ladies continued their charge for the North West Women’s regional league title with a 3-0 triumph over Bolton Wanderers Ladies at Nelson’s Victoria Park ground.
The visitors had a goal ruled out and struck the base of the post in the early stages of the encounter but it was Burnley striker Laura Hitchen who broke the deadlock in the 10th minute and that remained the scoreline until half-time.
After the restart Joanna Rohman doubled the home side’s advantage with Steph Meeks providing the assist before the latter got on the scoresheet herself in the 65th minute as her bending left wing cross evaded everybody in the box and hit the back of the net to make it 3-0.
On Sunday Burnley Ladies play Bolton Wanderers away, and the following Wednesday are at home against Chorley with kick-off at 6-45 p.m.