Padiham leave it late to stop the rot in five-goal Arbories thriller

Double blast: Kieron Pickup netted twice in Padiham's 3-2 win over Northwich Victoria
Double blast: Kieron Pickup netted twice in Padiham's 3-2 win over Northwich Victoria
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Padiham erased the haunting memories of a barren November and brought some festive cheer to the Arbories after beating Northwich Victoria 3-2.

Heavy rainfall in the build up to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League fixture meant the pitch was not at its best, but the Storks rolled up their sleeves and bossed the opening stages of the game.

Kieron Pickup was back to his best and within the first three minutes the striker forced visiting keeper Tim Deasy in to making an outstanding save before flashing an effort across the face of goal moments later.

Dominic Craig created a similar opening in Padiham’s next attack when drilling across the goalmouth from an acute angle after rounding Deasy, and after quarter-of-an-hour Dean Overson stabbed a Louis Mayers cross just wide.

With the away side restricted to a single shot - courtesy of Kevin Leadbitter who fired narrowly wide of the upright - it was fully deserving when Padiham took the lead in spectacular fashion. Pickup embarked on a solo, surging run and finished it off with a cracking shot that flew past Deasy to make it 1-0.

Leadbitter tested Storks stopper Sean Davis just before the half-hour mark with a free-kick that looped over the wall and in the 35th minute there wasn’t a single Northwich player on hand to apply the vital touch to Joe Holt’s drive across goal.

Chris Turner shot wide in Padiham’s next attack, but it was the visitors who went nearest to scoring before the interval when a long range shot over the head of Davis needed Overson to be in the right place at the right time to clear the effort.

The Storks doubled their advantage straight from the restart when Ben Allen headed in a Mayers centre to make it 2-0.

Holt went close again for the visitors with an attempt that was cleared off the line, while at the other end Pickup fired a chance straight at Deasy.

Northwich pressed for a route back in to the fixture, gradually forcing Padiham on the defensive, and Brian Summerskill went close on the hour mark before beating Davis five minutes later to reduce the deficit. Jamie Phoenix then leveled the scoreline in the 69th minute after forcing the ball home from close range following a goalmouth scramble to make it 2-2.

Davis kept out another Northwich chance when saving a Leadbitter shot but the points went Padiham’s way in the 88th minute when Allen played in strike partner Pickup who coolly rounded Deasy and slotted home from the tightest of angles to secure maximum points for the Storks.

Elsewhere, new Padiham Reserves boss Steve Pickup earned a point in his first game in charge.

Pickup, who replaced Marc Beckett following his resignation last week, saw his side fight back from a goal down at the interval against Irlam to draw 1-1 thanks to an Alistair Law equaliser.

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