A GOAL three minutes into stoppage time from Bootle’s Ryan Wilkinson denied Padiham a share of the spoils at Vesty Road on Saturday.
And to rub salt into the wounds, Craig Chadwick’s side were denied an equaliser with the last kick of the game, six minutes into time added on, when Martin Broderick’s free kick hit the bar.
The Storks had been under pressure from the start and conceded a penalty in the 18th minute, though captain Sean Davis thwarted Kevin Black from the spot. The home side went close again moments later, hitting the upright in a goalmouth scramble.
Bootle continued to pin Padiham back and created two further openings before half-time, but Davis was on hand to deny the hosts on both occasions leaving the scoreline goalless at the interval.
After the break, Bootle’s Daniel O’Connor was denied by the woodwork again, and it wasn’t until the hour mark that Padiham recorded their first shot on goal, but even then Jamie Treanor’s effort didn’t cause keeper Mark Mawdsley any problems.
Damien Morrison chipped a shot wide in the 70th minute before Broderick fired a set piece straight in to the arms of Mawdsley. Bootle’s Wilkinson and Lee Thompson both blazed efforts over the bar as time ticked over the 90-minute mark.
However, a hopeful long ball caused indecision between Davis and defender Kieran Fletcher allowing Wilkinson to nip in and score. Broderick then hit the bar seconds before the whistle.
Elsewhere, Padiham Reserves reached the final of the NWC Reserve Division Cup competition with a 4-1 win over Glossop North End. Tom Bradley gave the Storks the lead a minute before half-time, heading in the rebound of his saved spot kick. Bradley doubled the advantage with a strike from the edge of the box in the 58th minute and shortly afterwards Ben Hoskin fired in Padiham’s third.
The hosts pulled one back with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining but Padiham substitute Zack Dale ensured victory in the 80th minute as his effort flashed past the home side’s keeper.
The Storks will play either Silsden or Ashton Athletic in the final which will be played on May 1st.
The Reserve side also beat local rivals Nelson Reserves 3-0 midweek in the league, despite finishing the fixture with nine men as cup hero Bradley and Callum Little were sent off.
Danny Fagan headed the Storks in front in the sixth minute and Padiham made it 2-0 just before the half-hour as Bradley converted from the penalty spot. New signing Jordan McQuarry completed the scoring after coming on as a second half substitute.
Meanwhile, for Padiham Ladies in the North West Womens Regional League, a fourth place finish seems likely following a 3-0 defeat away to Morecambe Ladies.
A Padiham FC XI will face Rock Rovers in the Bird Cup final at the XLCR Stadium, Holt House, on Thursday, kicks-off 7 p.m.