WITH both Padiham and Congleton Town locked together in the NWC Premier Division it was no surprise that this Easter fixture served up a closely-contested clash.
But the Storks cracked as early as the eighth minute when Michael Koral, on loan from Crewe Alexandra, broke the deadlock.
Padiham went close themselves in the 15th minute when a long throw eventually found its way to Nathan Egan, who fired over.
Jamie Treanor tested home keeper Matthew Conkie moments later with an effort that needed a smart save to deny Padiham an equaliser, and Conkie had to be alert again to keep out a Martin Broderick free kick.
Congleton’s best effort to double their advantage before the interval arrived on the half hour mark when a ball in from the right found Daniel Doherty unmarked but he headed straight in to the arms of Sean Davis (pictured).
However, that cushion lasted just four minutes after the restart as Treanor converted from the penalty spot once Yann Goueguel had handled in the area.
But then Town had their chance from the spot just five minutes later. Marc Taylor was penalised for a challenge inside the box and Joseph Guest converted from 12 yards to restore the home side’s lead.
Craig Chadwick’s side survived another scare when a goalmouth scramble resulted in a close range shot hitting the upright but as play swung to the other end Town had their escape when Broderick hit the woodwork from a corner in the 70th minute before smashing the crossbar again with a 25-yard free kick two minutes later.
Padiham pressed for an equaliser but it wasn’t to be and it was Congleton who took maximum points.
Elsewhere, Padiham Reserves reached the semi-final of the NWC Reserve Division Cup competition with a 3-0 triumph over Irlam Reserves at the Arbories.
Leading 1-0 at the break courtesy of Tom Bradley’s long range effort, the Storks sealed the tie with a half-volley from Zack Dale and a header from Bradley.
The Storks now face Glossop North End Reserves on Saturday, April 21st.
Padiham A were well beaten at Fennyfold in the East Lancashire Football League, losing 6-1 to Borrowdale United. Stephen Cassidy scored the only goal for Padiham.
Meanwhile, Padiham FC Ladies’ chances of promotion took a massive blow as they were beaten 3-1 by fellow challengers Blackpool Wren Rovers at the Arbories.
The visitors led 1-0 at half-time after scoring early on, but Padiham drew level 15 minutes in to the second half when a Chantelle Brennan shot deflected over the head of the away side’s keeper.
But two goals in a minute sunk the Storks and extended the gulf between the two sides at the top.