Clinical defending and an industrious all round performance saw Padiham put in their best display of the season on Wednesday night in a 3-1 win at home to West Didsbury and Chorlton.
In a scintillating opening, the visitors showed their capabilities as Mike Donlon was called on to make a top-drawer save at full stretch from a George Whyment shot.
Clear-cut chances were otherwise few and far between, but that was testimony to the quality of the defending.
Padiham scored first after Kevin McGrath was judged by the referee to have pulled back Dominic Craig. Up stepped James Dean to atone for Saturday’s penalty miss by banging the ball decisively into the bottom left corner.
Excellent quick interchange play in the middle by the Storks saw the ball pushed through the channel on 23 minutes, bouncing off the back of Keiron Pickup only to be picked up by Dean, whose shot whistled just inches over the bar.
A deserved equaliser for West Didsbury arrived on 37 minutes. A ball over the top allowed Whyment to spring the off-side trap down the left before cutting inside and side-footing neatly into the far corner after his initial effort hit full back Ash Brierley.
One more decent chance fell to Padiham on the stroke of half-time as Chris Turner threaded a lovely ball to Pickup on the right. With Brierley overlapping, Pickup whipped in a perfect in-swinging cross towards Martin Parkes on the penalty spot, who powered his header goalwards, but keeper Aaron Ashley was in the right place to gather for West Didsbury.
The second half was extremely entertaining, with decent chances at both ends, before Parkes managed to put the Storks back in the lead with an excellent near post header from a Turner corner.
Parkes could have scored just a minute earlier, but the keeper had expertly palmed his looping header over.
Another penalty appeal was turned down after Dean had his heels clipped and then was bundled over in the box, and Dean again went close as he held off the defender and fired just over the bar.
Matty Kay hit a hopeful but wayward shot from the edge of the box for the visitors, and Marc Young charged down another hopeful shot from West’s top-scorer Evangelinos - otherwise they struggled to create much of note.
As West pushed more men forwards, Padiham scored the sucker punch with nine minutes left. A quick pass from the back was expertly flicked on by Dean to Mark Coyne who timed his run to perfection, and raced through to tuck the ball past the keeper.
Padiham are at Hanley Town on Saturday.