Padiham sat just above drop zone following latest loss

Dave Hankin, pictured in action for Bamber Bridge against Brackley in the Emirates FA Cup last month
Dave Hankin, pictured in action for Bamber Bridge against Brackley in the Emirates FA Cup last month

Padiham are just two places clear of the North West Counties Premier Division relegation zone following a 3-0 defeat against Abbey Hey.

The Storks, who dropped from the Evo-Stik First Division North last term, are six points clear of Silsden in 20th spot having played four games more.

The away side’s undoing at the Abbey Stadium on Saturday came in a three-minute spell leading up to half-time as Luke Gibson’s men netted twice before rounding off the scoring after the hour.

In an end to end opening 45 minutes the hosts had the first attempt when Justin Pickering fired across the face of goal.

The Storks countered and Kieron Pickup’s shot was turned around the upright for a corner by goalkeeper Jonathan McIlwaine before Andy Hill’s header crashed against the bar from the resulting set-piece.

Samuel Hind went close for the home side in the 11th minute with a shot that needed a brave goal line clearance by Lee Botham to keep it out while Padiham had a big shout for a hand ball and a penalty turned down in their next attack.

Sean Davis saved well from a Justin Pickering effort after 27 minutes and Johnathan Hardy struck a shot against the Storks crossbar as the home side began to get on top.

Abbey Hey continued to probe and Hind threatened again when his effort hit the outside of the post with five minutes of the half remaining.

However, that sparked a spell of pressure from the hosts and in the blink of an eye Steve Wilkes’s side went in to the dressing room at the interval with a two-goal deficit.

Pickering scored first after cutting inside from the left wing and smashing a shot past Davis while Hardy doubled the advantage when latching on to Hind’s assist.

Storks stopper Davis was called in to action early in the second half, tipping Hardy’s attempt on to the woodwork, and at the other end Hill failed to finish off a good move from the visitors when his chipped shot sailed over the bar.

Abbey Hey concluded the scoring in the 63rd minute when Ashley Blake converted with a simple tap in after Padiham’s claims for offside were ignored in the home side’s build up play.

Hind missed two good openings to increase the home side’s lead before Padiham staged a belated fight back in which Pickup missed a great chance to pull one back for the Storks when one on one with the home keeper.

Sean Cookson then had a header cleared off the line and new signing David Hankin hammered a strike against McIlwaine’s bar.

l Padiham are not in action again until Saturday, November 28th when they entertain Runcorn Town in the third round of the MEN United Cup at the Arbories.

Goals from Curtis Haley, Lee Botham and Martin Parkes saw the Storks beat AFC Liverpool 3-2 at the Arriva Stadium in the last round.