AFC Liverpool 2, Padiham 3
ANOTHER three points collected on the road kept Padiham in contention at the top of the North West Counties Premier Division table.
The Storks’ 3-2 win at Valerie Park against AFC Liverpool on a sticky playing surface was due mainly to an improved second half performance after a disappointing opening 45 minutes play.
Steve Wilkes’s side trailed to a 21st minute headed goal from Steven Corris and had Sean Davis to thank when the Storks goalkeeper prevented Francis Berry doubling the advantage in the 36th minute with a superb reflex save to tip the effort over the bar.
The visitors picked up the tempo in the run up to half-time and went close when a Steven Cunningham free-kick whistled wide before Ben Allen’s (pictured, right) attempt was tipped on to the post by Liverpool stopper Matt Kasbarian.
However, the biggest let-off for the hosts was to follow when referee Matthew Jones failed to give a clear cut penalty for a foul on Padiham captain Martin Parkes by Kasbarian.
An interval pep talk from manager Wilkes produced a much more energetic approach from the Storks in the second half and within three minutes of the restart they were level. A Tom Bradley set-piece found its way to the feet of Sam Morris and his shot flew through a crowded 18-yard box and in to the back of the net to make it 1-1.
And it got even better for the away side on the hour mark when Andrew Tinker beat Kasbarian with a dipping shot that went in via the underside of the crossbar. Then, in the 74th minute, Padiham stretched their lead to 3-1 when Allen headed home from a Bradley corner.
A series of substitutions temporarily unsettled Padiham’s pattern of play and following a reckless challenge by Elliot Dunn the home side were able to reduce the arrears as substitute Darrell Hale headed beyond Davis from close range in the 86th minute.
A grand stand finish from Liverpool and six minutes of added on time tested Padiham’s nerves but they held on to claim maximum points and stay within a point of league leaders Runcorn Town.
Padiham are in action again tomorrow (Wednesday) when they take on Evo-Stik league side Lancaster City at the Arbories in the Lancashire FA Co-Operative Challenge Trophy, kick-off 7-45 p.m.
Meanwhile, Padiham FC’s youth team beat Darwen Rangers 4-1 in the East Lancashire Alliance Youth League.
Joel Melia opened the scoring for the Storks in the seventh minute while a Danny Turner strike after 40 minutes gave the away side a two-goal cushion at half-time. Harry Price made it 3-0 in the 52nd minute and, after the hosts pulled a goal back, Andy Hill rounded off the scoring with 10 minutes remaining.
Elsewhere, Padiham under 13s also ran out comfortable winners as they beat Feniscowles 6-2.
Joe Noon scored a hat-trick for the young Storks while a Jack Lofthouse penalty and further goals from Jason Woolford and Layne O’Reilly consolidated Padiham’s place at the top of the table.