TWO late goals from Lee Morris sealed Padiham’s smash and grab mission in their North West Counties Premier Division encounter against Maine Road.
The talking point of the first half arrived on the half hour mark as the away side’s Neil Chappel was dismissed for a horror challenge on Padiham’s Jonathan Lea. The tackle resulted in lengthy treatment and the end to Lea’s participation in the game.
Efforts from Damien Morrison and Andrew Sensale gave Padiham some hope for the second half but in general both teams looked intent on producing a stalemate. The Storks re-emerged from the interval in high spirits and Jordan Hulme went close on two occasions; heading over from one attack and firing wide just moments later.
However, it was the 10 men of Maine Road who went nearest to breaking the deadlock in the 65th minute when a powerful free-kick from the edge of the box from Joshua Tinker needed Storks keeper Sean Davis to be alert as he tipped the effort over the bar.
Both sides failed to convert good openings as Stuart Telfer had a shot deflected for a corner while at the other end Harry Bockarie headed wide at the back post when unmarked.
But with 10 minutes remaining a simple ball over the top saw Ed Wileman latch on to it before slotting the ball past Davis to give the visitors the lead. And that lead could have been extended as Craig Chadwick’s men pushed forward in search of an equaliser but substitutes Matt Struminskyj and Liam Beckford squandered great opportunities.
That kept Padiham in a position to pull off the most amazing fight back of the season as Morris (pictured) secured maximum points for the Storks with two goals in time added on. His first when he gambled on a failed defensive clearance to slip in-between an array of players to force the ball past an irate Maine Road keeper Gregory Hall.
Then he struck in style to seal maximum points as his free-kick crashed in off the inside of the post, making the final score 2-1 to Padiham.
The Storks travel to Oldham Boro on Saturday for their first round clash in the FA Vase.
Elsewhere, Padiham FC’s A team hit visitors Church Town for six in their East Lancashire Football League fixture at Fennyfold on Saturday.
First half goals by Shane Holding, Marc Beckett and Curtis Gallagher gave the Storks a 3-0 lead at the interval.
The away side pulled one back just after the start of the second half, but further strikes from Daniel Stubberfield, who scored from the spot, Holding and Zack Dale ensured Padiham earned their biggest win of the season.
They now face Rock Rovers in the Bird Cup final on Wednesday with kick-off at 7 p.m. at Colne FC’s Holt House stadium.
Meanwhile, Padiham’s youngsters crashed out of the Lancashire FA Under 18 Youth Cup competition in the third round following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Fleetwood Town.
The Storks led at the break after David Wright struck from the penalty spot on the half hour mark but the hosts levelled on the hour direct from a free-kick. The home side then booked their place in the quarter-finals with a late winner.
Padiham under 12s also endured defeat, losing 3-0 away to Knuzden in the East Lancashire Alliance Youth League.
But Padiham Ladies were spot on as they reached the quarter-final stage of the Lancashire FA Womens County Cup competition, beating Preston North End Ladies 5-3 on penalties.
The game ended 1-1 after 90 minutes when Elise Howarth cancelled out Preston’s early opener which left Becky Hayton, Debbie Fraser-Higgins, Howarth, Abbie Bracklett and Chantelle Brennan to convert their spot kicks to decide the tie.