Three sent off as Padiham slip back down toward division’s trap door

On target: Keiron Pickup netted Padiham's equaliser, but they went down 2-1 to Burscough
On target: Keiron Pickup netted Padiham's equaliser, but they went down 2-1 to Burscough

Three successive defeats for the Storks has dragged the club back in to the Evo-Stik First Division North relegation scrap.

A comprehensive victory over rivals Wakefield earlier in the month had seemingly allayed fears of a drop back down to the North West Counties League, but Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Burscough saw the gap from the trap door reduced.

It proved to be another frustrating afternoon at the Arbories in atrocious weather conditions, on a pitch that was deteriorating in the pre-match warm up.

Padiham were desperate for a win over a side they had beaten 4-3 earlier in the season, but a lack of firepower cost the hosts dearly.

An injury to Padiham’s regular keeper Sean Davis in the build up gave 17-year-old England Colleges’ stopper Marcus Burgess the chance to start, and he was given a hectic introduction.

Danny Boyle fired across the face of goal in the opening 60 seconds, but then Jordan Williams headed over at the other end, and Mark Beesley fired wide before Burgess saved well from Eddie Toner.

Padiham’s Dominic Craig screwed an effort inches wide in the 20th minute, followed by two more opportunities for Boyle which the nippy forward failed to tuck away.

That profligacy was punished in the 33rd minute as a a speculative attempt from Conor Roberts looped over Burgess and into the net.

Burscough went close again minutes later when a Liam Caddick effort flew just over. Steve Wilkes’s side could have levelled in their next attack, but keeper Tim Horn produced a superb double save to keep out point blank efforts from Kieron Pickup and Boyle.

A lively start to the second half saw Pickup blast a good opening over, but the striker made up for that miss within a minute with an angled shot past Horn for the equaliser.

Ashley Carter fired across the six-yard box immediately after, while Martin Parkes’s close range effort was deflected onto the post.

Burgess was called upon to make a series of saves , but in the 63rd minute the teenager spilled a cross and Jordan Williams was on hand to tuck the ball home from close range to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.

Louis Mayers had a great opportunity to level matters when substitute Paul Fildes pulled the ball back into his path, only to see his shot flash past the post.

Padiham had a big shout for a penalty when a visiting defender handled, but in stoppage time Burscough’s Anthony Brown and Toner, along with Padiham’s Michael Morrison, all received red cards in an incident sparked by a horrendous challenge on Craig.