PADIHAM held on to second spot in the NWC Premier Division after a 1-1 draw against Stockport Sports on Saturday.
The game, being played on the Optima 3G surface at Lambeth Grove, set off at a fast pace, and Sean Davis, fresh from winning December’s goalkeeper of the month accolade, had to be alert to keep out Kevin Gall’s effort in the first minute.
Padiham hit back straight away and from a Tom Bradley free kick, Kieran Fletcher directed a header goalwards only for home keeper Mark Pullman to tip the attempt over the crossbar. Stockport’s John Marsden tested Davis again after the marksman broke from midfield but shot straight at the Padiham keeper.
Neil Stansfield had a shot blocked by Stockport’s Josy Symans moments later before Joe Garvin’s set-piece was only just scrambled away from the top corner by Pullman.
Mark Sharples threatened with a couple of half chances before Bradley played in Kenny Taylor, who had a shot saved by Pullman. Further Padiham pressure then resulted in a Taylor cross being put wide by Ben Allen.
At the other end Davis had to be brave at the feet of Jay Mahmet on the half-hour, but four minutes later Padiham took the lead. A free-kick from Bradley once again caught the hosts at sixes and sevens, allowing Allen to steal in and punish the managerless outfit by getting a touch to the loose ball, sending it into the net.
Stockport had one chance before the interval to get back on terms, but Liam Irwin’s curling shot went the wrong side of the upright.
The second half was even more frantically than the first, and within 60 seconds Marsden got on the end of a free kick but could only guide his attempt into the arms of Davis. Richard Anane broke quickly from midfield to send a shot over the Storks’ bar, though it was the away side who could have doubled their lead in the 51st minute when Sharples won possession in the box only to see his shot hit the outside of the post.
Steve Cunningham got on the end of a corner in the 63rd minute but his effort flew over, and from then on in Stockport took control, forcing Padiham to defend deep.
Steve Wilkes’s side clawed on to their advantage until the 81st minute when a poor clearance was pounced on by Craig Flowers whose turned the ball past Davis to level the scores at 1-1.
Stockport piled on the pressure as the clock wound down but Padiham went closest to snatching a winner in the last few seconds when David Sherlock wriggled free of his marker only to head a great cross over from close range.
Padiham entertain local rivals Colne at the Arbories on Saturday, kick-off 3 p.m.
Elsewhere, Padiham Reserves earned a vital three points from their home fixture against Barnoldswick Town Reserves, beating their title rivals 2-1.
The visitors led after only two minutes through Ben Mousley but Nathan Egan equalised from the penalty spot.
Danny Fagan scored the winner in the 87th minute heading in a corner, before Barnoldswick missed a penalty.