ATHERTON LR became the first club this campaign to complete a North West Counties Premier Division double over the Storks with a 3-1 win at the Arbories.
Padiham were forced in to making four changes to the line-up which beat Rossendale United 5-2 midweek due to injuries and suspensions. And it became apparent in the early stages of Saturday’s encounter that Craig Chadwick’s side were struggling to work as a defensive unit, allowing the visitors to create a number of openings and score an early goal.
In the third minute, a right wing break by Ben Cartwright culminated in the full back’s cross finding Phil Howard, who sounded an early warning with a shot just over the bar.
But Padiham failed to respond, and three minutes later Atherton took the lead when a well-worked passage of play ended with Carl Beamish firing past Josh Boothman.
Padiham drew level in the 19th minute when a Paul Telfer centre was handled, and Paul Fildes tucked away the resulting penalty.
A huge goalmouth scramble in the home side’s next attack saw efforts from Fildes, Lloyd Balazs and Paul Barrett either saved or blocked in a frantic 10 spell that should have seen Padiham take the lead.
Padiham went close again just after the half-hour mark when an Ed O’Neill cross was headed inches wide by Martin Parkes, and then a moment later Fildes went even closer with a lob that had Atherton stopper Martin Pearson scrambling backwards as the effort just fell the wrong side of the upright.
At the other end Boothman saved well at the feet of Phil Howard, and as the play quickly switched back upfield, the Storks had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Michael Beverley as Barrett was hacked down by Pearson after he had been played through on goal by Fildes.
The hosts rode their luck a minute before half-time when a short free-kick resulted in a ferocious Daniel Smith strike crashing against the upright before rebounding to safety.
The second half started with Atherton hitting Padiham’s woodwork again when Howard turned well before sending his shot goalwards from the edge of the box.
But the same player went one better in the 66th minute when he latched on to a through ball and chipped his shot over the keeper’s head.
Two minutes later Balazs forced Pearson to save well low down, and from the loose ball Barrett missed a chance to level when he fired in to the side-netting.
Boothman was forced in to action again when he denied Howard once more, but Fildes was thwarted by Pearson with a quarter of an hour of the game remaining.
A minute later Atherton made sure of the points when Howard broke free on the right before rolling a square pass in to the path of Beamish who made no mistake from 10 yards.
Telfer summed up Padiham’s afternoon when he rounded Pearson but then put his shot wide from close range with the goal gaping.
Padiham kept going until the final whistle as Fildes had another effort flash across the face of goal, but it wasn’t to be.
The Storks travel to Flixton tomorrow for a 7-45 p.m. kick-off and are on the road again on Saturday as they face Maine Road with kick-off at 3 p.m.
Rock Rovers 1, Padiham A 4
PADIHAM A produced an impressive display to overturn a 1-0 deficit and thrash Rock Rovers.
Trailing after 15 minutes, the Storks drew level 10 minutes before the interval through Josh Ripley. After the half-time break Padiham went on to dominate the game taking the lead in the 55th minute courtesy of Duane Knappett and extending their advantage on the hour with Ripley grabbing his second. Rob Johnson completed the scoring in the 80th minute.
Penwortham Ladies 0, Padiham Ladies 3
PADIHAM Ladies maintained their unbeaten run in Division One with a victory away at Penwortham Ladies on Sunday.
A 20th minute strike by Becky Hayton gave the Storks a 1-0 interval lead and further goals by Hayton in the 68th minute and Elise Howarth with 10 minutes remaining secured another three points for the league leaders.