PADIHAM all but ended Barnoldswick Town’s faint hopes of clinching the Premier Division title on Easter Monday with a win at the Arbories.
In the first half both sides had chances, before the Storks stamped their authority on the game. Nathan Egan and Paul Walker blazed over and Martin Broderick flashed an effort past the post before the 25th-minute mark.
Moments later Egan went even closer as his shot whistled by the post after he was played through one-on-one with Alex Woodcock.
Eventually Padiham’s pressure paid off when a cross from Walker was headed home by Kieran Fletcher in the 35th minute.
Former Stork Chris Ridehaulgh almost upset the hosts after the interval, but he was denied from close range by Sean Davis.
At the other end Damien Morrison sent a header inches wide from Broderick’s cross.
The fixture switched from end to end on a wet Arbories pitch, but the Storks had enough in their tanks to secure the win, even handing a debut to 17-year-old youth team player Joel Melia in the final 10 minutes. And the teenager almost made an instant impression as he curled an effort just wide after a clever, jinking run.
Padiham are at home again tomorrow to Runcorn Linnets, kick-off 3 p.m.
Elsewhere, Padiham Reserves slipped to fifth following a 3-2 defeat at New Mills Reserves.
Trailing 1-0 at half-time, the Storks equalised with a twice-taken penalty from Daniel Stubberfield.
Josh Cliff then nudged Padiham in front but the visitors conceded twice to lose an exciting clash.