Padiham Football Club’s two year stay in the Evostik First Division North came to an end on Saturday when their 3-1 home defeat to Warrington Town condemned the Storks to a bottom two finish and relegation back to the North West Counties Football League with three weeks of the season still left to play.
But Padiham celebrated only their fourth win of the season omn Easter Monday as they earned a 4-1 derby victory at Clitheroe.
The win might have come too late to save them from relegation back to the NWCFL but it put a smile back on a lot of faces and asks the question why couldn`t the Padiham team show this kind of form on more occasions this season?
Assistant manager Steve Pickup was in charge of the Storks for the second time in the absence of manager Stephen Wilkes, who was away in America with his daughter, who was playing for Preston North End girls in a tournament, and said after the match that he had loved every minute of his time in charge and thanked the players for their efforts.
The game itself started with the home side going close twice in the opening eight minutes through former Stork Louis Mayers and former Claret David Lynch, and Padiham missing a golden opportunity themselves when Alex Grice headed a Daley Woods cross over the bar from close range after 10 minutes.
The game continued to switch from end to end as the first half progressed, with Clitheroe’s Sefton Gonzales firing a shot across the face of goal and Clitheroe keeper Callum Jakovlevs saving bravely at the feet of Chappy Massamba on 24 minutes.
Gonzales headed straight into the arms of Storks keeper Sean Davis on 25 minutes, while Andy Hill did likewise following a free kick by Grice which was easily saved by Jakovlevs.
Padiham then survived two good chances for Clitheroe to take the lead when Gonzales beat the off-side trap and shot wide, and substitute Joseph Mullen shot straight at Davis from close range, leaving the half-time scoreline goal less.
After the break Padiham hit the ground running with Massamba and Woods able to expose the home side’s lack of pace at the centre of their defence to run riot straight from the restart.
Massamba was the first to strike, finding the back of the Clitheroe net on the hour mark, and doubling the lead 10 minutes later with another well-taken goal. Padiham added a third on 71 minutes through former Clitheroe player Woods, and at this stage of the game Padiham looked like scoring from every attack.
With 15 minutes to go Mullen offered the home side a way back when his deflected shot beat Davis to reduce the Storks’ lead, and on 87 minutes Gonzales hit the bar.
But when Josh Emmott played in Martin Trickett, the points were safe for the side from over the hill when Tricketts shot beat Jakovlevs all ends up to increase Padiham’s lead to 4-1.
Padiham substitute Mitchell Leece had two good chances to add to the lead and a free kick by Clitheroe’s player manager Simon Garner tested Davis, who expertly claimed the dropping ball from underneath his bar to end an excellent afternoon for Padiham on a high note.
Padiham are back in action this Saturday at home to Ossett Albion at the Arbories Memorial Sports Grounds YESSS Electrical Arena, kick-off 3 p.m.
On Saturday, Padiham’s performance at the Arbories against Warrington Town was one of their better displays of a turbulent season, only to lose 3-1.
Davis certainly did his best to keep Padihams hopes alive with two top-notch saves in the early stages of an entertaining encounter, in which Padiham battled hard to get the result they needed.
Curtis Haley shot just wide on seven minutes, Danny Wilkins shot over and Jordan Scott forced visiting keeper Karl Wills into making a wonder save to keep out his close range header, but no break through for the Storks.
While at the other end, a move down the left and a ball into the Padiham box found Chris Gahgan, and from close range his shot squirmed its way under the body of Davis and into the Padiham net to give the visitors a 43rd-minute lead.
Scott tested visiting keeper Wills straight from the start of the second half with a shot that needed a full-length diving save to keep it out, while at the other end a tangle in the 18-yard box led to a penalty and Ben Wharton scoring from the spot kick to make it 2-0 to the visitors on 53 minutes.
The visitors made it 3-0 on 65 minutes through Robert Booth and although Padiham pulled one back when Massamba headed in a Chris Turner free kick, and went close again when Woods had a shot blocked and Haley sent an header just wide and had a shot saved, the reality of it all was that the Storks’ time in the Evostik First Division North had finally ended.