Padiham’s hopes of an EvoStik First Division North double over local rivals Ramsbottom United were extinguished within the opening quarter of an hour at the Arbories on Saturday.
In that time, the Storks found themselves 2-0 down to a brace from former Padiham player Jordan Hulme.
Hulme grabbed two goals in the space of three minutes, heading in a Grant Spencer corner on 13 minutes, before turning in another Spencer flag kick from close range shortly after.
Playing against the elements in the first half, Padiham were always second best, but in the run-up to half-time, went close from two well-taken free kicks, although Chris Turner’s effort curled just wide, before Kieron Pickup’s dead ball forced Ramsbottom keeper Grant Shenton to save athletically at the foot of the post.
After the interval, the visitors continued to put Padiham under pressure, and after going close on a number of occasions, eventually added a third goal when Lee Gaskell ran onto a ball from Spencer before firing past Sean Davis on the hour.
Substitute Louis Mayers added some forward impetus to Padiham’s play and went close with a shot from the edge of the box which Shenton did well to keep out.
Padiham did find the back of the net, with Danny Boyle following up to score from close range after James Blackburn’s shot was saved 20 minutes from time.
Within four minutes, however, Phil Dean added Ramsbottom’s fourth, beating Davis after he was allowed to run virtually the length of the pitch without a single challenge.
The win enhanced Ramsbottom’s play-off credentials, but was a sixth-successive defeat for Padiham.
The Storks have no midweek game, but host Darlington 1883 at the Arbories on Saturday, when the club anticipate their highest attendance of the season, with hundreds of away supporters expected to make the journey from the north east.
Padiham’s youth team beat Whalley 5-0 to maintain their lead at the top of the East lancashire Alliance, with goals from Ben Beardsell (2), Jack Langfield, Liam Cole and Corey Cook.
They host Lammack at the Arbories on Sunday in the cup, kick-off 11 a.m.