Full Time: Padiham 3, Clitheroe 1

Padiham v Clitheroe
Padiham v Clitheroe

Padiham will face Penrith AFC in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup after brushing aside rivals Clitheroe at the Arbories.

The tie, to be played at the World Group Stadium, provides the Storks with an excellent opportunity for progression against opposition in a tier below.

While Penrith defeated Shildon 2-0 at Dean Street, goals from Kieran Pickup, Ben Allen and Tom Bradley earned a 3-1 triumph over the Blues who found an injury time consolation through substitute Mark Threlfall.

Both sides cancelled each other out in a stale first half, with neither keeper really tested. Danny Bell squandered the first opening for the visitors when screwing his shot wide once Jack Overson’s header fell kindly for him inside the box.

After skipper Martin Parkes headed over the bar from Mark Sharples’s deep free-kick, striker Pickup sliced wide of the angle after Allen and Bradley had combined in the build up.

The closest the fixture came to a goal in the opening 45 minutes arrived midway through the half, though referee Andrew Smith had already pulled back play once Rob Brodie had drilled narrowly wide of the far post.

Chris Dykes dragged an effort wide of the target from the edge of the penalty area when off balance while Brodie blazed an effort over the bar on the stroke of half-time.

In front of a crowd of 322, Paul Moore’s men searched for the initiative early in the second stanza but failed to capitalise on their dominance.

Moore’s opposite number, Steve Wilkes, had goalkeeper Marcus Burgess to thank for that as he saved well from Scott Bakkor and Any Griffiths.

First he narrowed the angle to foil Bakkor who had infiltrated the space in behind the Storks rearguard and then threw himself at the feet of Griffiths to save with his legs after Adam Birchall had supplied a penetrative pass.

But after holding off the pressure, Padiham forced the breakthrough on the hour mark. Pickup’s delightful pass with the outside of his boot fell perfectly in to the path of Allen who, when stood up by Will James and Jack Higgins inside the area, returned the ball to his strike partner who found the corner.

Burgess preserved his side’s lead moments later when denying Bakkor with his legs after the marksman had been slipped in by Griffiths.

At the other end, Allen saw his header from a Sharples corner deflected over the angle, and then last season’s top scorer forced Richard Mottram in to his first save when cutting in past Higgins and firing towards the corner right-footed, but the keeper flew to his left to palm the attempt to safety.

The away side had a great chance to level proceedings when Dykes played a diagonal pass in to the penalty area, which Burgess misjudged, but Bakkor headed in to the side-netting when ghosting in at the back post.

The game was intriguingly poised, but that all changed in a frantic final five minutes. In the 85th minute, after Bradley was upended by Dykes, Allen opened his account for the season in spectacular fashion.

The 22-year-old, who scored 40 times during Padiham’s promotion season, swept the 20-yard free-kick past the defensive wall and in to the aperture between the post and Mottram to make it 2-0.

Bradley capped off a fine individual display with a minute of normal time remaining when firing home from close range as Allen drove at Clitheroe’s defence and fed the ball to substitute Spencer Jordan who rolled the ball in to the six yard box to tee up Bradley.

But there was still time for a Blues consolation and they grabbed it when Mark Threlfall, introduced midway through the second stanza, pounced on the loose ball to steer an effort in to the corner to make it 3-1.