PADIHAM’S nine game unbeaten run came to a frustrating end at the Arbories on Saturday as in-form Alsager Town sealed maximum points with a 2-1 victory.
In the early stages of the fixture there was no indication of what was to follow as the Storks continued to play in the fashion that saw them beat Lancaster City in midweek.
Alsager keeper Stuart Heeps saved early efforts from Liam Foster and Andrew Tinker. Moments later Dave Sherlock troubled the visitors when he hit the by-line and pulled a a ball back in to the box, but none of his colleagues were in place to take advantage of the opening.
Sherlock then fired wide on the quarter-of-an-hour mark and within 60 seconds he had Heeps scrambling to his post to save a free-kick. In the 20th minute Tinker was set clear but lost out to a last ditch challenge that gave the away side a reprieve.
Eventually though Padiham’s pressure paid off when a free-kick in to the visitor’s 18-yard box was won by Martin Parkes before the loose ball was slammed in to the back of the net by Tinker in the 24th minute.
However, Alsager gradually clawed themselves back in to the game and in the run up to half-time had chances to draw level. Tom Parkes drilled narrowly wide in the 35th minute and the Storks needed keeper Sean Davis to be in top form to tip over a Wayne Hughes effort with just minutes remaining until the interval. Davis was then called in to action again when a mix up between Kieran Fletcher and Foster gifted Daniel Beigus a one-on-one opportunity but the Storks stopper saved with his legs.
Neil Stansfield almost doubled the Storks lead seven minutes in to the second half when his superb run ended with his shot cannoning off the post. Heeps saved another effort from Sherlock just before the hour as the hosts struggled to extend their cushion.
And their profligacy was punished with 20 minutes remaining when a rash challenge from Foster gave Alsager the chance to level from the spot, and Lee Wright made no mistake from 12 yards out to make it 1-1.
Defensively Padiham were now under intense pressure and after knocking on the door for prolonged periods Alsager got the break that their performance threatened when a misunderstanding between Sam Morris and Fletcher saw Tom Parkes benefit as he planted his shot beyond Davis in the final minute.
Kenny Taylor had Padiham’s one chance to steal a point in added on time but his angled drive whistled agonisingly past the upright. Padiham have no midweek fixture but are at home again on Saturday when they entertain Runcorn Linnets, kick-off 3 p.m.
Elsewhere, a closely fought NWC Reserve Division clash between Glossop North End and Padiham finished goalless.
Incredibly both teams squandered first half penalties while Ben Sutcliffe went closest to sealing victory for the Storks with 10 minutes remaining when his effort struck the upright.
Meanwhile hat-tricks from Emily Wilkinson and Elise Howarth and further strikes from Phoebe Hindle, Elisa Welsh and Becky Hayton secured Padiham FC Ladies’ biggest win of the season as they thrashed Carlisle Ladies 9-1.
Finally, two goals from Mason Hughes and another from Jack Lofthouse ensured Padiham FC under 13s continued their great start to the East Lancashire Alliance Youth League campaign continued as they beat Fulledge 3-2.
• Padiham Football Club’s annual Sportsmans Dinner will take place on Thursday, November 29th at the 1882 Lounge at Turf Moor. Former England and Arsenal star Paul Merson will be the guest speaker for the event, Andy Ashworth will be the MC for the evening and the pair will be joined by comedian Josh Daniels. For ticket information contact Alan Smith on 07775 717698.