Runcorn Town 2, Padiham 2

EQUALISER: Chris Ridehalgh
EQUALISER: Chris Ridehalgh

PADIHAM’S first ever visit to Runcorn Town’s Pavilions Sports Complex proved to be a tough test for the Storks as they kicked off the new North West Counties Premier Division season with a 2-2 draw.

The newly-promoted Cheshire-based side exerted pressure on Padiham from the first whistle and they were almost rewarded when James McShane volleyed over.

The visitors lost central defender Keiran Fletcher through injury and Runcorn took the lead in the 13th minute when Luke Thompson lost possession and allowed Graeme Mitchell to score with a long range strike.

The hosts could have doubled the lead when a shot from Mark Keddie needed a fine save from Sean Davis.

Padiham’s Jordan Hulme to force keeper Karl Wills into an acrobatic save, but Runcorn retaliated when Mitchell flashed a shot across goal before Daniel Dalton’s header was saved well by Davis low down by the post.

Padiham eventually got a foothold in the game and went close themselves when an Ed O’Neill pass found Andy Sensale and his effort bounced agonisingly wide. But a minute later Padiham were awarded a penalty after Dean Sadankay was adjudged to have handled the ball. Hulme stepped up and confidently stroked the ball home to level matters.

Within six minutes Runcorn regained the lead after Ryan Malone used his pace to break down the right and cross in for McShane, who smashed in from close range.

Craig Chadwick’s side equalised seven minutes after the interval O’Neill threaded a ball through for Chris Ridehalgh struck the ball with venom past Wills.

Padiham are at home on Wednesday night against last season’s First Division champions AFC Blackpool, with kick-off at 7-45 p.m.