Padiham top table for first time

HAT-TRICK HERO: Ben Allen

HAT-TRICK HERO: Ben Allen

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PADIHAM climbed to the top of the North West Counties Premier Division for the first time in the club’s history after beating St Helens Town 4-2.

But a lacklustre start from the Storks could have seen them fall a goal behind when, in the 17th minute, goalkeeper Sean Davis produced a spectacular save to deny Phil Williams before diving straight back into action to thwart Stephen Edwards’s rebound.

Cole Ashton fired over the top for the hosts in their next attack, though he should have done better with the effort, and it wasn’t until the half-hour mark when the away side had their first sight of goal - though Sam Morris rifled over the bar following a flowing Padiham move.

However, six minutes later Town took the lead after a series of defensive errors from the Storks saw the ball fall to the feet of Michael Sykes-Wright who beat Davis all ends up with an angled shot from close range.

Padiham should have drawn level just before half-time when Morris’s floated free-kick allowed Kieran Fletcher to get a free header on goal, but the defender’s diving effort flashed wide of the far post.

The interval allowed manager Steve Wilkes to iron a few things out and it worked as within three minutes of the restart the Storks were level when Ben Allen headed Morris’s cross past Lee Novak to make it 1-1.

Edwards gave Padiham a scare in the 54th minute when his shot on the turn flew just inches wide of the upright while at the other end an Andrew Tinker set-piece found Allen, whose header was tipped on to the bar by Novak and from the resulting corner the same player headed just wide.

But the home side shocked the Storks when a long range drive from Philip Williams restored their lead in the 65th minute. Padiham clawed themselves level with 10 minutes remaining when they were awarded a penalty for handball, leaving Allen to convert the spot kick.

Incredibly the Storks were awarded a second penalty five minutes later, this time Novak brought down Kieran Pickup and from 12 yards out Allen completed his hat-trick to give Padiham a 3-2 lead.

The best goal of the game arrived in the 88th minute when Allen turned provider to nod the ball in to the path of Pickup who volleyed past Novak to round off the scoring and send the Storks to the summit.

Padiham face rivals Colne in a local derby at the Arbories tomorrow night, kick-off 7-45 p.m.

Elsewhere, Padiham Reserves were never in danger of losing their fixture against Silsden Reserves at the Arbories after Joel Melia provided the ninth minute cross for Nathan Egan to convert to make it 1-0.

Daniel Haworth then set up Nicholas McNally to double the Storks lead and after continuing to dominate proceedings after the break, a Kieran Demaine cross was turned in to his own net by a visiting defender to make it 3-0.

Meanwhile, two goals apiece for Ryan Black and Andrew Hill gave Padiham Under 18s a comfortable 4-0 win away to Haslingden St Marys in the East Lancashire Alliance Youth League.

And Padiham Under 13s remain top of the league following their 4-1 win over Fulledge on Sunday. The Storks’ goals were scored by Liam Simm, Mason Hughes, Jason Woolford and Harry Kerrigan.

Finally, Padiham Ladies showed no mercy to Division One North basement club Bury with a thumping 12-0 triumph.

Becky Hayton capped a superb performance with six goals, Jane Birleson scored twice while Charlotte Holden, Justine Wallace, Emily Wilkinson and Debbie Fraser Higgins all chipped in with a goal apiece.