PADIHAM claimed their fourth consecutive victory on Saturday to climb to fifth in the Vodkat Premier Division - and surpass last season’s points total in the process.
Craig Chadwick’s side have now amassed 62 points, two more than last year, and they still have six more games to fulfil.
Padiham couldn’t have asked for a better start against their Merseyside opponents as they struck twice in the opening six minutes.
First Paul Fildes found the back of the net in the third minute with a shot that squeezed inside the upright, and then Stuart Telfer doubled the advantage with a measured header after Fildes had turned provider with a cross from the right.
Bootle rarely showed any signs of getting a foothold back in the game in the first half, going closest in the 35th minute when Michael Young sent in an in-swinging free-kick that curled wide.
After the break the visitors made it more of a contest, and an early opportunity from a well-flighted set-piece needed a smart save from Padiham keeper Sean Davis to keep out a Daniel O’Connor header.
Jamie Hay went close for the away side with another header from a corner on the hour that went over, and although Bootle gradually increased their stranglehold on possession, they failed to trouble Davis.
Padiham thought they had extended their lead in the 66th minute as Jordan Hulme smashed in the rebound after Bootle stopper Mark Mawdsley had denied Fildes from close range, but the linesman’s flag was raised for off-side.
Hay had Bootle’s last opportunity to score late in the game, but the Padiham keeper saved well.
The Storks gave a full debut to full-back Michael Taylor during the victory and gave 16-year-old Curtis Gallagher his first appearance as he entered the fray as a 30th minute substitute for the injured Paul Barrett.
Padiham take on St Helens Town at Ashton Town’s Edge Green Street ground tonight (kick-off 7-45 p.m.) and on Saturday the Storks travel to league leaders New Mills (kick-off 3 p.m.).
Irlam Reserves 0, Padiham Reserves 1
PADIHAM Reserves kept their hopes of winning the Vodkat Reserve Division championship alive with a narrow win at Irlam.
Without six regular players, the Storks struggled on a rock-hard playing surface in the first half, but did hit the woodwork when Josh Cliff broke down the right in the 25th minute before finding Nathan Egan, who fired under the keeper and against the upright.
After half-time, Padiham slowly started to force the play, with Egan missing two good opportunities.
But eventually the breakthrough came with 10 minutes remaining when Marc Beckett and Richard Geoghegan combined well, before the latter found Josh Ripley, whose effort from the edge of the box beat keeper Nicholas Parker.
The Storks are now 10 points clear of their closest rivals in the table though Glossop have three games in hand.
Padiham A 2, Burnley Belvedere 5
WITH both Padiham’s first team and reserves weakened through absences, the third string bore the brunt of players moving up.
Padiham struggled in the early stages against Belvedere at Fennyfold, and found themselves 2-0 down after 25 minutes.
Steven Astbury pulled one back for the hosts and gave Padiham hope until Belvedere added a third in the 40th minute. Joey Taylor reduced the deficit once more, however, Taylor hit the bar and the referee failed to award a penalty when Fishwick’s follow-up was handled. Belvedere went on to score two more in the final 10 minutes.