After reaching the semi-finals of the competition last term, Padiham were condemned to an early exit from the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy this time round as they lost 4-1 at Ramsbottom United on Tuesday night.
Ben Allen went close in the sixth minute of the second round tie when his effort was tipped around the upright for a corner by home keeper Jake Chadwick. At the other end, Sean Davis reacted brilliantly to claw Dominic Smalley’s header off the line.
A Louis Mayers free kick in the 15th minute created danger and set up a great opportunity at the back post for Dean Overson, but the Storks defender misjudged the flight of the cross as the ball flashed past.
Davis was at his best again to keep the score goalless when Jordan Hulme forced the keeper to launch himself at an effort from the left and force the ball around the post with his fingertips. And as play swung again, Mayers flashed a centre across the face of the home side’s goal.
Grant Spencer was a lively presence for the home side, setting up Hulme in the 28th minute to fire wide before having his own deflected shot saved five minutes before the interval.
Mayers had an attempt from the edge of the box saved a minute later and with seconds remaining before half-time Dominic Craig’s chip dropped just over the bar.
However, after drawing a blank in the first half, the goals came past and furious in the second with the hosts taking a 58th minute lead when substitute Danny Warrender scored with his first touch of the game as he turned in a left-sided cross from close range.
Two minutes later, Hulme doubled United’s advantage when a sudden burst of pace manufactured the space for him to rifle a shot past a stranded Davis.
The game was effectively over as a contest in the 67th minute when Hulme scored again to leave Steve Wilkes’s side reeling after conceding three goals in just nine minutes.
The introduction of Kieron Pickup and Sam Morris added some impetus to Padiham’s display and in the 83rd minute Craig reduced the arrears when finishing off a neat, intricate move involving Mayers and Allen to make it 3-1.
The Storks committed men forward in a late surge with Pickup rifling just wide, Allen forcing a corner from a deflected effort while Chadwick denied Martin Parkes with his legs.
But the inevitable happened in stoppage time. As the Storks pressed they were left vulnerable at the back and as United broke, Davis saved from Smalley but Hulme responded to convert the rebound and claim his hat-trick to complete a 4-1 win.
Padiham entertain New Mills at the Arbories tomorrow with kick-off at 3 p.m.