Padiham threw a massive spanner into the Evo-Stik First Division North promotion race on Monday night when they held unbeaten Curzon Ashton at the Tameside Stadium, despite going a goal down within a minute.
In confident mood after the 2-1 win over Kendal Town on Saturday, the Storks couldn’t have got off to a worse start against high-flying Curzon, when a right-sided free kick led to Jonathan Hunt having the easiest of opportunities to place the ball into an unguarded net.
Padiham responded with a Ben Allen effort in their next attack, which home keeper Anthony Thompson saved, but at the other end, Padiham had a let off when Jordan Wright hit the upright with a shot.
Undaunted, the Storks began to get a foothold in the game, with Allen causing all sorts of problems in the Curzon defence.
Eventually his presence paid off, and on 26 minutes he bundled in a Tom Bradley cross from the left to level matters.
Allen again had the ball in the back of the net five minutes later, but for the second game running his effort was rather harshly ruled out for off-side.
Padiham continued to put the league leaders under pressure, and after another Bradley cross found Allen, this time the Storks’ marksman’s header flew just wide.
Curzon’s Mark Bell fired a corner over five minutes from half-time, and just when it looked like both sides would go in level at the break, Padiham’s habit of giving goals away late in the half manifested itself again.
A loose ball from Keiron Pickup on halfway provided the hosts with the opportunity to break down their left, and from the cross, Matthew Warburton’s shot deflected past keeper Ben Proctor to give Curzon an interval lead.
Padiham appeared for the second half without Allen after he was unable to recover from a dead leg sustained late in the first half.
But it didn’t seem to effect the way the Storks went about the game, although Proctor had to be alert to keep out a snap shot from Warburton early in the second half.
At the other end, Thompson was also in action, making saves from a Pickup free kick, and another dead ball, this time from Louis Mayers.
But he could do nothing to stop Padiham’s squaliser when Dominic Craig nudged in Martin Parkes’ goalbound effort from a Pickup corner midway through the half.
Curzon hit back almost immediately with Warburton going close with a shot over the bar, and Proctor having to make an excellent save to keep out Bell’s effort.
By now the game was end-to-end, with both sides trying to force a winner.
With five minutes to go, Padiham substitute Steve Cunningham found himself one on one with Thompson, but the keeper made the save, then in added time, Pickup had the goal at his mercy, but couldn’t beat Thompson.
Although not a victory, it was another confidence boost for the Storks, who host Farsley FC at the Arbories tomorrow (kick-off 3 p.m.).