THE Storks extended their impressive start to the New Year with an excellent win over big-spending New Mills at the Arbories to knock the High Peaks side off top spot in the Vodkat Premier Division league table.
Padiham supporters have good reason to be excited for the second half of the campaign, with this performance coming on the back of a fine win against local rivals Colne the previous Monday.
But the hosts had to withstand some early pressure before getting a foothold in the game with Ed O’Neill going close on two occasions.
The breakthrough came right on half-time when in-form Jordan Hulme ran on to an O’Neill pass, beat two defenders before curling an inch perfect shot past New Mills keeper Dominic Ingram Hughes to give Padiham the advantage at the break.
The Storks then doubled their lead immediately after the interval when a Stuart Telfer corner found Padiham captain Martin Parkes at the back post, and he made no mistake turning the ball in from close range.
On 52 minutes New Mills stopper Hughes did well to save another effort from O’Neill, but three minutes later he was beaten for a third time.
Tom Bradley’s free kick found Hulme who, after delicately bringing the ball under control, turned sharply to volley over the head of Hughes making the scoreline 3-0.
The away side pulled one back with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining after Storks keeper Sean Davis rushed out of his box to head the ball clear and was adjudged to have committed a foul by the match official.
Carlos Meakin took full advantage of the set-piece, firing the ball into the corner of the Padiham net.
Before the restart, however, New Mills’ latest signing from Stanley Bridge Laquan Esdaille was sent off for an off-the-ball incident involving Storks defender Keiran Fletcher.
Padiham nearly scored a fourth when the game did restart when Hulme broke down the left and played in Ben Hoskin, but the Padiham full-back shot wide.
Meakin had a good chance to pull another back for the visitors five minutes from time but the New Mills striker headed wide of the post, allowing Padiham to run down the clock and claim three points.
Ashton Town Reserves 1, Padiham Reserves 3
PADIHAM Reserves moved back to the top of the Vodkat North West Counties Reserve Division with an away win at Ashton Town Reserves.
Richard Geoghegan gave the visitors the lead in spectacular fashion, scoring directly from a corner in the 15th minute.
Padiham’s hopes of maintaining that lead until half-time were dashed however in the 33rd minute when the home side’s Graham Begley equalised with a speculative long range drive.
The second half saw Padiham take control of the game after Robert Johnson scored again direct from a corner in the 63rd minute.
Nathan Egan made it 3-1 two minutes later finishing off a well-worked Padiham move chipping the home keeper after Geoghegan had played the pacey Padiham forward in on goal.
Padiham first team have no midweek game but travel to Congleton Town on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Padiham Reserves are at home to New Mills Reserves this Saturday, kick-off at 3 p.m.
Supporters wanting to travel on Padiham FC’s team coach on Saturday should contact club secretary Alan Smith on 07775 717698 to reserve a place. The coach will leave Padiham at 11-45 a.m.
Padiham U11s 4, Barnoldswick Barons 2
PADIHAM’S youngsters played their first North Valley Youth League fixture of the New Year on Sunday, beating Barnoldswick Barons after leading 3-1 at half-time.