PADIHAM avenged their only league defeat of the season as the Storks beat 10-man Winsford United to move alongside the leading pack in the NWC Premier Division.
Padiham’s opponents scored three late goals to somehow reverse proceedings at the Arbories earlier in the campaign as United won 4-3, but victory at the Barton Stadium ensured Steve Wilkes’ side moved on to 29 points with fellow table-toppers Congleton Town, Runcorn Town and Bootle.
As a contest however the first half was very much a tame affair with neither side stamping any authority on the game. Owen Deakin Pickard had to stretch to connect with a Tom Bradley back post cross in the 12th minute, though the effort flashed wide.
Bradley fired over in the Storks’ next attack and in the 17th minute Ben Allen found the wrong side of the post from close range. As the pendulum swung Brian Matthews missed the target with two attempts from the edge of the box while Kyle McGonigle’s snap shot on the turn whistled wide of the post.
After the break Padiham had a lucky escape when in the 56th minute, following a Winsford corner, the ball was turned on to the underside of the crossbar via a deflection and from the rebound a Storks defender blocked on the line.
But a minute later another Winsford corner produced the opening goal when Padiham failed to clear the danger and McGonigle pounced to stab the loose ball in to give the hosts the advantage.
Following the breakthrough the tempo of the game immediately picked up and within four minutes of the deadlock being broken both sides had two players booked while Winsford had John Bennett sent off for violent conduct following a clash with Steve Cunningham.
Worse was to follow for the home side when in the 65th minute, following a horrendous mix-up in defence, Ben Allen picked up possession and applied the perfect finish to beat Andrew Jones to make it 1-1. The Storks sensed an important victory was on the cards and went all out to score a second.
Sam Morris set up the next chance when his left wing break and cross found Allen but his shot on the turn flew wide. The same combination then led to another opening in the 70th minute but again Allen was unable to hit the target, blazing over the bar from close range.
In the 71st minute Joe Garvin had a shot deflected over the Winsford crossbar and a quarter-of-an-hour of the fixture remaining the Storks found the net, but Garvin’s deflected cross was ruled out.
Garvin flashed another shot across the face of goal in the 85th minute but two minutes later, after knocking relentlessly on the door, he had his reward when he drilled a left-footed effort from the edge of the penalty area that screamed past Jones to make it 2-1.
Kenny Taylor very nearly added a third in added on time but couldn’t beat Jones when one-on-one.
Padiham have no midweek fixture but on Saturday they are in NWC Challenge Cup action when they take on Northwich Villa or Daisy Hill at the Arbories in a second round tie, kick-off 3 p.m.
Meanwhile, Padiham Reserves leapfrogged weekend opponents Glossop North End thanks to a 3-2 victory.
The Storks jumped in to second spot in the NWC Reserve Division table after overturning a 2-1 deficit. A long range Gareth Hill effort put the Storks ahead at the interval, however a strike by Daniel Johnson and an own goal saw the Storks trail midway through the second half. Nicholas McNally levelled for the Storks and Nathan Egan fired in the winner, both with superb strikes from distance.
A one-sided East Lancashire Alliance Youth League fixture saw Padiham FC’s youth team hammer Mill Hill 13-0. Harry Price scored four as the young Storks romped to victory, Joel Melia and Andy Hill both claimed hat-tricks, Connerly Seen grabbed a brace while Kian Farnworth etched his name on the scoresheet.
Padiham FC under 13s also ran out comfortable winners, beating Crown Paints 8-3. Two goals apiece for Williamson, Grant and O’Reilly plus solitary strikes from Hughes and Kerrigan sealed the victory.
Elsewhere, Padiham FC Ladies marched in to the quarter-final of the Lancashire FA Womens’ County Cup competition with an emphatic 8-1 home win over Pennington Ladies on Sunday.
Hat-tricks from Emily Wilkinson and Becky Hayton and two from Elise Howarth secured Padiham’s passage in to the last eight. However, the victory was marred by a distressing incident that saw one of the Pennington players collapse before being rushed to hospital in an ambulance. The club later learned that the player was comfortable in hospital.