PADIHAM picked up another three points on the road on Easter Monday when Paul Fildes’ goal earned them a win at Brocstedes Park Ground.
And that took Craig Chadwick’s side to 70 points for the season, with one more game remaining, at home to Runcorn Linnets tomorrow (kick-off 3 p.m.).
Padiham had a bright start and came close to opening the scoring in the first five minutes when Luke Thompson had a shot tipped over by keeper Craig Ellis, while Jordan Hulme had an effort saved, and Fildes fired wide.
But the hosts reminded the Storks they were not there just to make up the numbers as Alexander Dunne forced Sean Davis into a good save on 10 minutes, and he went close again shortly after when he shot over with Davis out of his area.
Padiham responded with a Hulme header that went wide in their next attack, and then came the defining moment of the game on 17 minutes when leading scorer Fildes received the ball 30 yards out and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner to put the Storks in front.
Ashton again responded when Colin Quirke took advantage of a slip in the visitors’ defence, but he shot over.
Padiham full back Tom Bradley then cleared a Ryan Mason effort off the lline, before the game settled down, with Padiham holding onto their lead at the break.
The second half exploded into action, and Padiham jad a lucky escape when Dunne was allowed to run at the defence before smacking a shot against the angle of post and bar, before the ball bounced away to safety.
Dunne tested Davis again, forcing a save low down, before Davis did well to tip a shot from Dean Connelly away for a corner, and the Storks keeper was again involved when he saved at the feet of Dunne.
Not to be outdone, the Ashton keeper had to be at his best to keep out a Damien Morrison effort just before the hour, but this was only a respite as, at the other end, Padiham had another let off when a ball across the face of goal was turned over the bar by Daniel Stubberfield from less than five yards out.
Dunne tested Davis again 15 minutes from time, and right at the death Quirke went as close as he could to grabbing an equaliser when his shot crashed against the bar.
Padiham are hoping for one of their best attendances of the season at the Arbories tomorrow when they host Runcorn, and on Monday, the club host Accrington Stanley Reserves’ game with Preston North End, kick-off 7 p.m., in a game which could affect Burnley Reserves’ title hopes.
• ALREADY crowned Lancashire FA County Womens League Division One champions, Padiham Ladies maintained their unbeaten league record with a 6-3 win against Accrington Girls and Ladies.
Three goals in the opening 12 minutes ensured the away side were always in the driving seat with Holly Mansfield, Becky Hayton and Hannah Glendinning on target. Accrington pulled one back before half-time, but Hayton grabbed her second, and Chantelle Brennan made it 5-1.
Accrington scored again two minutes later and with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining they reduced the deficit to 5-3.
But Hayton struck again to complete her hat-trick in the 86th minute to cement a 6-3 victory.