TWO goals in the space of three first half minutes more or less settled this Boxing Day North West Counties Football League derby between Barnoldswick Town and Padiham.
The breakthrough came on 22 minutes when Paul Fildes let fly with a shot which Storks keeper Josh Boothman did well to keep out, only for the loose ball to fall into the path of Robbie Smith who tucked the opportunity away to put Barnoldswick a goal up.
It seemed no sooner than the game had restarted that the home side out flanked the Storks’ defence before a cross to the back post found Smith unmarked and able to bungle the ball in for a second goal for Town on 25 minutes.
Padiham hit back with an effort by Martin Broderick which home keeper Billy Carrington did well to keep out following a deflection.
Then Padiham’s new signing Sam Heap broke away only to fire over the home side’s crossbar, before eventually the visitors reduced the deficit on 33 minutes.
A left hand sided free-kick by Broderick was headed goalwards by Storks captain Martin Parkes and after Carrington failed to hold onto ball, Heap followed up to score from close range.
Padiham did everything but run up to half-time with Carrington pulling of what looked an impossible save from a goal bound Lee Morris shot on 35 minutes and then Parkes and Morris missing further opportunities with shots over the crossbar and wide of the post.
However just before the interval Barnoldswick’s Smith missed a great opportunity to cpmplete his hat-trick when he shot wide when one-on-one with Boothman.
After the break the game continued to switch from end to end and on 59 minutes only a top class save this time from Boothman prevented Aaron Hollingdrake from increasing the home side’s lead.
Padiham’s best chance of drawing level in the second half came on 73 minues when Chris Ridehalgh fired in a low hard cross from the right that squeezed through the legs of everybody without getting the touch that was needed and eventually after flashing across the face of the goal somehow exited the field of play at the other side of the pitch.
Barnoldswick kept probing as Padiham pushed more and more men forward for a leveller.
Liam Blades, Shaun Clough and paul Fildes all had efforts just off target before Barnoldswick finally made the points safe, four minutes from time.
A failure to close play down just outside the Storks 18-yard box eventually led to Fildes creating some space on the right before sending in a low hard cross that substitute Spencer Jordan turned in at the far post to give Barnoldswick their 3-1 win and Padiham a disappointing end to 2011.
Padiham are scheduled to play their first home fixture at the Arbories since their FA Vase home defeat against Askern Villa back in mid-November this Monday against Silsden FC. The game kicks off at 3 p.m.