Padiham 2-3 West – West Didsbury & Chorlton AFC

Padiham 2-3 West

Saturday 1st October 2022, NWCFL Premier Division

Padiham 2 (Brownhill 29, Gooden 75)
West 3 (Elliott 35, 84, Gavin 61)
Att: 196

West secured a fifth win in a row with a hard-fought three points at Padiham.

Chris Rowley’s side had won the previous two league games by an aggregate score of 14-1, but this was a very different encounter against a side one point behind West at the start of play.

In a topsy-turvy game, Joel Brownhill put the Storks ahead just before the half-hour, before Ben Elliott restored parity before the break. Lee Gavin then put West ahead, before it was the home side’s turn to respond as Jack Gooden levelled with 15 minutes remaining. But Elliott struck again in the final six minutes to decide the destination of the points.

Padiham’s sloping pitch, along with heavy rain across the North West 24 hours earlier, meant that this was a very different spectacle to Tuesday night’s win on the artificial surface at Burscough. West eked out the clearest chance of the early exchanges, but Rhain Davis was off-target when attempting to lift the ball over Storks keeper Matthew Hamnett.

Though clear opportunities remained hard to come by, the home side began to dominate possession as the half wore on. Brownhill capped the pressure with his 12th goal of the season, stealing in ahead of the West defence to convert a low cross.

But West’s own hitman ensured the visitors weren’t behind for long. From the Storks’ perspective, it was a gift, as a breakdown in communication between defence and goalkeeper left the West number 9 with the simple task of tapping into an empty net.

The opening period of the second half continued to be as attritional as the first, but the game burst into life in the final half hour. An excellent interchange between Elliott and Matthew Cook led to Elliott rattling the woodwork, but Gavin was lurking on the edge of the box – crucially keeping his half-volley low, steering it into the bottom corner for his first goal of the season.

West’s strongest period of the game came immediately following Gavin’s goal, as they looked to make the points safe. Max Lewens and Elliott both forced good saves from Hamnett as the visitors increased the tempo.

But the momentum looked to have swung decisively the other way in the final quarter of an hour. The Storks’ Joel Melia carried the ball deep into the West half, and his pass was slotted home from a narrow angle by substitute Gooden.

Suddenly it looked like a point might be a best-case scenario as the home side began to dominate territory again. West’s defensive pairing of Ben Hampson and Markell Foulds had to be resolute as Padiham began to go long, with Andrew Jones also dominant in the air.

The visitors began to regain their composure as time ticked away and were rewarded with the decisive fifth goal of the afternoon. The excellent Davis motored into the Storks half and slipped the ball through to Elliott, who held off a defender and fired past Hamnett for his 17th goal of an increasingly impressive season.

That goal looked to have knocked the stuffing out of the home side, and West looked the more likely to add to the scoring – subsitute Liam Delaney clipped the bar with a vicious long-range effort. But Elliott’s goal was enough to seal a first win at the Ruby Civil Arena since 2016, and consolidate West’s position in the NWCFL Premier Division top seven.

That is particularly impressive considering eight of West’s 11 league games so far have been away, but Chris Rowley’s side now have the chance to build on that with three home assignments in a row – starting with Tuesday night’s visit of Lower Breck.

West: A. Jones, Cook, Graham, Taylor (C. Jones), Hampson, Foulds, Davis, Gavin (Dickenson), Elliott, McKnight (Delaney), Lewens. Not used: Hancock, Eme.

Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Player of the Match: Matthew Cook.

What it means

We remain 7th in the Premier Division, but move on to 21 points from 11 games.

What’s next

We welcome Lower Breck on Tuesday 4th October (7:45pm), as the Liverpool side make their first visit to Brookburn Road.

Chris Rowley reaction