Football can be cruel at times, as the Padiham players found out on Monday night, when, despite an excellent all-round team performance, the Storks still found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-1 score line at league leaders Atherton Collieries.
Padiham easily had the better of the opening 20 minutes, going close on four minutes when Aaron Taylor broke free but shot wide, and then going even closer six minutes later when James Dean forced home keeper Adam Reid into making an important save to keep out his shot.
The same two players engaged in another duel on 20 minutes, and once again Reid came out on top, this time tipping Dean’s shot round the upright and away for a corner.
At the other end, Atherton began to create chances themselves when Jake Kenny hit the bar with a long range shot on 23 minutes, Liam Wood sent an effort just wide a minute later, and Gareth Peet, whose speed kept Padiham’s defenders busy all night, shot right across the face of the goal on 26 minutes.
Mark Coyne interupted a spell of Atherton pressure with a header from a Garry Hunter corner that looped agonisingly over the bar on 34 minutes.
But a minute later, Collieries’ prolific goal scorer Mark Battersby broke the deadlock with a close range header from a left-sided cross.
Three minutes before the break, the home side doubled their lead after being awarded a very soft penalty which Mark Ayres accepted as a gift, converting the spot to give Atherton a 2-0 interval lead.
After the interval, Padiham really had a go at getting back into the game, starting with a Joseph Whittington shot across the face of goal, and getting even better when Taylor headed in a Dean cross on the hour mark to reduce the deficit.
Further Padiham pressure saw home keeper Reid turn an Alex Murphy free kick round the post, and Taylor set up Dean for a shot that Reid this time turned over his own crossbar.
Battersby could and probably should have added a third goal for the home side, but shot over, while in a hectic finish to the game, Dean, Murphy and Hunter all went close, whilst Brandon Barski must still be wondering how he missed a golden opportunity to equalise for the Storks when he skewed a late effort wide from close range.
Padiham travel to West Auckland Town in the FA Vase competition on Saturday, hoping for a much-needed win against their Northern League opponents.