Padiham can take a lot of positives from their debut fixture in the Evo-Stik League First Division North despite a 2-0 loss away to Northwich Victoria.
The fact that the Storks had to play with 10 men for more than 75 minutes after goalkeeper Sean Davis was sent off for preventing a goalscoring opportunity didn’t help matters, especially when Tony Evans converted the resulting penalty to give the hosts the advantage.
A re-shuffled Padiham side - with full back Tom Bradley taking over in goal - showed plenty of character and worked hard to stay in the game with the deficit remaining at a solitary goal at the break.
After half-time, Padiham stuck to their task of closing Northwich down and eventually forced an opportunity to equalise. Mark Sharples’ free-kick in the 67th minute found its way through a crowded penalty area to Ben Allen, but last season’s leading scorer failed to beat Tim Deasy from close range.
Steve Wilkes’ side continued to battle but the hosts put the game beyond the league newcomers’ reach with 10 minutes remaining when River Humphreys’s drilled centre was turned home by substitute Alex Taylor to make it 2-0.
The Storks had a real go at trying to salvage something from the fixture in the run up to full-time with Allen going close twice either side of a Sharples set-piece.
The striker’s first effort whistled past the upright and his second, moments after Sharples’s free-kick flew inches over the bar, saw Deasy turn his trike from the edge of the box away for a corner.
In the aftermath, manager Steve Wilkes said on social networking site Twitter: “I just want to say how proud I am of my players. We had our keeper sent off after 10 minutes - no comment - yet still gave Vics a tough game. All my boys did me proud, they worked their socks off.”
The Storks are in action again tomorrow when Harrogate Railway Athletic visit the Arbories with kick-off scheduled for 7-45 p.m.
Elsewhere, Padiham Reserves had a satisfying 4-1 away win over Glossop North End Reserves in the North West Counties Football League Reserve Division on Saturday.
Ted Cockett scored twice for the Storks while Wayne Morrison and Daniel Turner bagged a goal apiece.