PADIHAM dominated their home game against Ashton Athletic on Saturday from start to finish.
Only an outstanding goalkeeping display by the visitors’ shot stopper Adam Halton prevented a complete rout by the home team against opponents who were more intent on stopping the Storks playing than winning the fixture.
Time after time Padiham opened up Athletic’s defence in the opening half hour of the game but they couldn’t get the break through their control of the game deserved. Then on 38 minutes a curling free-kick by Joe Garvin into the visitors’ 18-yard box found the head of midfield player Elliot Dunn and at last the Storks had the lead.
Two minutes later and Padiham doubled their advantage when a through ball saw wideman Kenny Taylor beat the offside trap, outpace the visitors’ defence and round the keeper before slipping Padiham into a 2-0 lead.
David Sherlock had no fewer than three excellent chances in the run up to half-time to increase Padiham’s lead but two saves by Halton and a goal line clearance prevented that happening.
The second half mirrored the opening 45 minutes with Padiham in total control. Dave Sherlock lobbed an early effort over Ashton’s crossbar and Taylor shot wide after cutting in from the right in another attack.
On the hour mark though Padiham had the ball in the Ashton net again but referee David McNamara disallowed the goal, awarded a penalty to the Stork for handball in the build up by Athletic player James Waldron and then sent the visitors’ defender off.
Up stepped the normally reliable Garvin who in turn saw his spot kick saved. Two minutes later a foul on Sherlock resulted in another penalty to Padiham, but once again Ashton keeper Halton came out on top when this time he saved Liam Foster’s spot kick.
Lee Barrett had a first-time effort go just wide of the Ashton upright on 72 minutes but an absolute blockbuster of a shot from 25 yards by fullback Tom Bradley on 73 minutes eventually got the Storks their 3-0 lead.
Action then switched to the other end and on 80 minutes a handball by Sherlock gave Ashton the chance to score from the spot.
Mark Bailey took the responsibility to reduce the deficit but once again his opposite number won the battle of nerves when Sean Davis saved the penalty kick, but this time luck favoured the spot-kicker when Bailey fired in the rebound to put his side on the scoresheet.
Sherlock very nearly made amends for his handball with a shot that looked a goal all the way until Halton turned it round the post with another superb save.
On the 90-minute mark however Padiham added a fourth goal when Mark Sharples squeezed in a shot between Halton’s leg and the post to make the final scoreline 4-1 to Padiham.
Padiham FC have no midweek game but travel to fellow promotion rivals Congleton Town on Saturday before taking on Barnoldswick Town at the Arbories on Boxing Day. Both fixtures kick off at 3pm.