Padiham exited this season’s FA Trophy competition at Stalybridge Celtic’s Mottram Road Ground on Sunday, despite a dogged performance against higher league opponents FC United of Manchester in their first qualifying round tie.
In front of a lower than expected crowd of just over 600, Padiham - United’s first ever opponents back in August 2005 - had to defend in depth during the first half, but survived all the home side’s pressure, including scares when Tom Greaves and Luke Ashworth both hit the woodwork, and Lewis Lacy had a close range headed goal disallowed for off-side, to keep a clean sheet and go in at half-time level at 0-0.
Padiham opened the second half with the first shot in anger following an effort from Brett Ormerod which tested home keeper Dave Carnell, but it was more of the same from the home side as the second half progressed, and Jerome Wright skimmed the top of the bar with an header on 53 minutes.
Ormerod gave FC United a scare themselves at the other end on 57 minutes when he rounded the keeper, only to see his ball into the six-yard box cleared.
Padiham keeper Marcus Burgess then made an excellent save to keep out Matthew Kay’s effort, but three minutes later he was beaten with a shot from Wright, who burst through on goal after out pacing Craig Haynes to break the deadlock and put United ahead.
Outstanding defending by Martin Parkes and Tom Murphy kept Padiham in the game and in with the chance of snatching an equaliser, that was until the 83rd minute, when a right wing cross was not cut out, and substitute Matthew Walwyn - who had only been on the pitch five minuites - ensured the home side’s passage into the next round, scoring the all-important second goal to kill the tie.
It was a valiant effort from the Storks, but they ultimately bowed out to deserving winners, with Wright the man of the match.
Padiham are back in action again tomorrow night in the EvoStik First Division North when they take on Kendal Town at the YESSS Arena at the Arbories Memorial Sports Ground, kick-off 7-45 p.m.