Padiham close on top spot

CHALLENGE: Mark Sharples slides in
CHALLENGE: Mark Sharples slides in

PADIHAM moved to within a point of NWC Premier Division leaders Maine Road following a 1-1 draw away to local rivals Colne.

The Storks started well and had a great chance to break the deadlock as early as the third minute when Ben Allen’s flick on from Joe Garvin’s free kick fell into the path of Liam Foster, who fired wide.

Allen was again in the thick of the action 10 minutes later when he released Kieran Pickup, leaving the young striker one-on-one with Colne keeper Chris Thompson, but the Reds stopper came out on top, saving well from Pickup’s curling effort to keep the game goalless.

Two minutes later Thompson once again thwarted the Storks striker, this time saving a header from Owen Deakin Pickard’s cross.

In fact it wasn’t until the 24th minute before Colne registered their first real attempt when Ashley Carter lashed over the bar from the edge of the box.

But Steve Wilkes’s side continued to press for the opener and went close again just before the half-hour mark when Pickup’s deflected effort went out for a corner, and from the resulting set-piece Kenny Taylor blazed over.

However, the home side ended the half well and Padiham keeper Sean Davis had to be alert to save Michael Morrison’s header in the 41st minute from Carter’s free kick.

And in the final seconds the Storks survived a massive scare when Colne’s leading scorer Jason Hart flashed an effort across the face of goal.

After the break Pickup headed wide at the back post when unmarked, but it was the home side who eventually broke the deadlock at the XLCR Stadium when Jack Overson conceded a free kick on the edge of the box and James Crorken curled the resulting set-piece into the top corner to give Colne a 1-0 lead.

The away side responded almost immediately when Pickup flicked Garvin’s centre over the upright, but just after the hour the Storks got back on level terms when Allen’s predatory instincts saw him turn a cross home to make it 1-1.

Allen had the ball in the back of the net again four minutes later but this time a linesman’s flag was raised to rule the strike out for off-side.

Mark Coyne headed high and wide from a Colne free kick with quarter-of-an-hour of the fixture remaining, while at the other end Thompson saved a tame shot from Pickup in the 79th minute.

Mark Sharples tested Thompson from the edge of the box in the 81st minute, looking for the win that would take Padiham top, before Andrew Tinker drilled over the bar from 25 yards out.

Garvin’s late free-kick threatened Thompson, but just as it looked to be creeping in at the foot of the post, the effort was deflected for a corner meaning the spoils were shared at full-time.

Padiham have a break from league action tomorrow as they take on AFC Blackpool in the North West Counties League Cup at the Arbories, kick-off 3 p.m.